I feel like I'm petering out here at blogging, and kind of can see the end of the habit approaching (if it already hasn't!).
But there's a few things percolating that I'd like to get out of my head first, if you don't mind.
If you're like me, your internet and reading habits lead you to foodie news stuff. Our local paper had an article about the eat local challenge (which I totally sign up for at our co-op purely for the coupons!) And of course we're getting inundated with Prop 37 info. I have fairly strong formed opnions about GMO crops, and HFCS, and Big AG, but at the end of the day, I keep thinking:
None of this matters, if people don't learn to cook.
If you cook from scratch, or even mostly from scratch, you eliminate a huge amount of the garbage that goes into our food without even trying.
If you don't eat carrots, or know how to cook kale, it really doesn't matter how they were grown, or which season they are available locally. If you join a CSA and don't know what to do with half your box, it's a waste of money.
The source, or provenance, or organic cleanliness of your food, doesn't matter until people start cooking. And trust me, for some of those people, the familiarity of handling fresh veggies (and even frozen, or partially prepared) will lead to caring more about where their food comes from. They'll notice the difference, grow a tomato plant or a pot of herbs, be attracted to the table at the farmers market, and start seeking out things that look and taste better. For the rest? Still doesn't matter. Cheap Aldi vegetables from wherever, and even CAFO meat that wasn't processed into oblivious patties mixed with corn and soy, is STILL BETTER. Actual whole foods from Walmart are better than processed foods from Whole Foods.
I sometimes get turned off by the elitism of the food movement. And I'm someone who is totally participating in it!
I think we have to remember how we got started, how we transitioned from eating lipton noodles out of our college apartments, and discovered one day how to make mom's casserole recipe using cream of mushroom soup. The stuff that comes later? Making a roux (almost as easy as opening that can!), that didn't happen overnight. Remember that a lot of meals involve tired, overextended people (I'm including myself here) who don't have a lot of money, and just need something quick and nourishing for dinner. Those meals don't have to come out of a box.
This summer I've been hanging out at Flick more (I'm breadninja, by the way). A local friend started this group called "Garden Grub". The idea is to incorporate your garden produce into meals, and share a picture. There are some folks that do it religiously every day, and some who pop in and out. No rules. But it's SO encouraging, especially in a time of year when you're busy and tired of cooking/preserving. You think you're sick of tomatoes, then you see somebody's simple pasta dinner, and it gives you an idea. Some days it's just a salad that goes with a take-out dinner, or a few fresh veggies added to a frozen pizza. Some nights it's more than that, a restaurant-quality meal. And both options are totally fine, these are real meals, made by people who (mostly) have a habit of cooking every night. Yes, we're crazy gardeners too, but we also have jobs/kids/hobbies, and the rest of our lives.
I'm glad people are working on the big issues--there's definitely no reason not to approach complicated problems from all sides. But I think for me, I want to work on the other end, the part where we encourage people just getting started. I want to find ways to talk about food that doesn't make people roll their eyes or count themselves out ("I could never make that, I can't afford to eat that"). Because all the good stuff? The nutritional value, the quality family time, the environmental benefits, those will come later, without even trying. If you learn to cook.