Digital food

Ok, from where I sit behind my keyboard, it seems most people out there need a good, long nap. And it’s not even yet December 1.

What, did Cyber Monday turn everyone into little hand-cramped, stuff-lusted, googly-eyed zombies? Did our computers suck the actual (as opposed to virtual, which would be just too convenient a pun) life out of us? We’ve got a long way to go, people — January is a month away, and we all know that no one really rests until then.

Yes, I’m remembering the adage that when one of my fingers points at you, there are three pointing back at me. I’m tired, too. My eyes hurt, too. I didn’t even buy much yesterday, but it seems I spent much of the day looking at things and wondering whether I should buy them. It’s exhausting work.

And then my world was somewhat rocked last night, after reading this brilliant movie review by one of my favorite contemporary authors, Zadie Smith. Her review of The Social Network was less movie review, more social commentary on how a 19-year old college student absorbed our lives. I recommend the read (when you have more than a few moments to spare) — but it’s left me with that general feeling of dread over what’s becoming to not just one generation of humans, but humanity as a whole. Not really in a moral sense, but a what is real sense.

(At this point, I feel like Garrison Keilor’s voice-over should be announcing that what we all need is a piece of rhubarb pie, or maybe ketchup.)

Which isn’t a bad segue. Because as I was driving this morning, on the outer loop freeway around Indianapolis, following the directions of the electronic voice booming from the navigator on my fancy smartphone (I’m getting to test-drive an Android, many thanks to Verizon for conveniently getting my whole family addicted to Angry Birds), feeling a bit over-digitized myself (even though I’m personally no longer on Facebook, and yes, I hang my hat on that peg) — I just kept thinking about food. And that feeling of panic, of beginning to float above the surface of the earth, looking down on a projection of myself made up entirely of Matrix-like zeroes and ones driving a Honda Odyssey, began to recede.

I thought about listening to Marketplace Money last Saturday, hearing a segment on home-canning, and how there’s a resurgence among middle-class Americans to go back to the kitchen. I thought about our local food movement here in Indy, and hearing Michael Pollan talk a couple weeks ago, and about the ever-present wisdom of Wendell Berry, whose essays are currently my nighttime reading. I thought about the fact that, with food, the trend seems to be going in a direction opposite digital. That many people in our community view technological progress as something to avoid in food.

That, last time I checked, an apple was still an apple. That we still bite them and chew them and swallow them, and you can’t get a sense of their sweetness and juiciness unless you do that. That they still grow on trees, trees that grow in orchards, orchards that need rain and sun.

And these things, no matter what the next 2.0’ers (2.1’ers? 3.0’ers?) can pull out of their virtual magic hats, will not ever be controlled or consumed via screen.


This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday, hosted by GNOWFGLINS, A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, Sustainable Eats, and Culinary Bliss.

12 thoughts on “Digital food

  1. This was great and much the same response as my own. I am still on Facebook. And on Twitter. And on Tumblr, Flickr, Goodreads, Yelp and my own blog. I really feel like I do get value from each of these places in kind but they don’t diminish love of la life offline. I love that she made me think about that though. I feel kindred in her explanation of a “nostalgic” view of what makes a person, but there are too many times to count that a stranger has said something to me online that legitimately helped me. Or that a casual connection to someone on Facebook acted as a launchpad for a deeper friendship as we revealed ourselves there. That said, I’m picking up “You Are Not a Gadget” on my way home tonight.

    1. No, I know. When I self-righteously proclaim that I’m not on FB, I do fail to mention that I am on twitter, goodreads, etc. So, a true Luddite I obviously am not (considering the fact that I’m even typing this comment).

      But there is something about Facebook. There are many things about it I miss — I read a great article on this subject,here. But there’s also something scarier, I think. Like the Mac made be begin to think of regrets in terms of “command-zero,” I (in my previous 2-year history with FB) began to think constantly in status updates. As I read Smith’s article, I was identifying with the high school students who didn’t fully realize their friend was gone — and found it a bit terrifying.

      Not that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution — after all, I’m not shutting down my computer. But it did help, in my mild panic, to focus for a few moments on the fact that there will always be things (i.e., food) that refuse to be reduced to pixels.

  2. I have to say, last night was a whole different experience for me. We had REALLY bad weather here (I’m Katy’s sister, my fiance and I live in Starkville, MS). I was flipping back and forth from local news outlets and The Weather Channel while sitting at my computer with no less than five different web pages up and going, including and Ironically, all evening, I got the fastest notifications about new torndado warnings and the most specific information from Twitter. I was following several meteorologists and storm chasers who pointed out specific storm cells that were going to produce tornados and/or damaging winds sometimes a full TEN MINUTES before the warnings went out from any of the news outlets. And they were scarily accurate. Also, Jerry and I live in the CENTER of Starkville and never once heard a siren, so if I wasn’t the weather freak that I am with my face glued to Twitter and Facebook we could have very well been totally asleep and oblivious when the EF2 tornado hit Starkville less than two miles from our house. Luckily, we were in a closet and we didn’t have any damage at our house, but a mobile home park wasn’t so lucky. In addition, a friend of mine on Facebook that lives in Yazoo City started immediately updating specific damage information from there to people in Starkville with friends and relatives that couldn’t get through on the phone… In one case, a student here gave him her grandmother’s address and he was able to go check on her. He wrote back to the girl to say that her grandmother was safe, although her home did have damage and her 150 yr old oak tree was uprooted. So although I agree completely that it can get out of hand, sometimes having so many people connected to each other through places like Facebook and Twitter can not only be a good thing, but I dare say after last night it can actually save lives. =)

    1. Yeah, I’m not saying everyone has to be done with it — it’s more that we must recognize that it’s changing us, and very, very quickly.

  3. but I customize my CSA basket through a website……argh!
    and I sign up to volunteer for the farmers market via my email!

    And who is this Zadie Smith you speak of? I need to read her.

    Also? Can you come to supper club this Sunday? It’s at our house. Taco Bar and beer, if you’re interested.

    1. I’d start with On Beauty.

      Bummer. I don’t think we can come — Butler’s holiday party is a private performance of The Nutcracker, so we’ll be taking the whole fam to the ballet.

  4. Jennie has a point… I am able to keep up much better with you and Tim and the kids through the computer. Costs less than talking on the phone and it’s way easier to get in touch with you on here. =)

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