The effect is both domestic and wild, equal parts geometric and chaotic. It's the visual signature of small, diversified farms that creates the picture-postcard landscape here, along with its celebrated gastronomic one. Couldn't Americans learn to love landscapes like these around our cities, treasuring them not just gastronomically but aesthetically, instead of giving everything over to suburban development? Can we only love agriculture on postcards?
And here is the shocking plot twist: as farmers produced those extra calories, the food industry figured out how to get them into the bodies of people who didn't really want to eat 700 more calories a day.
If you ask me, that's reason enough to keep a kitchen at the center of a family's life, as a place to understand favorite foods as processes, not just products.
The standard approach has been to pump up the dosage of chemicals ... Twenty percent of these approved-for-use pesticides are listed by the EPA as carcinogenic in humans.
Arterial-plaque specials that save minutes now can cost years, later on.
Many of us who aren't farmers or gardeners still have some element of farm nostalgia in our family past, real or imagined: a secret longing for some connection to a life where a rooster crows in the yard.
This story about good food begins in a quick-stop convenience market.
But other people fast or walk long pilgrimages to honor the spirit of what they believe makes our world whole and lovely. If we gardeners can, in the same spirit, put our heels to the shovel, kneel before a trench holding tender roots, and then wait three years for an edible incarnation of the spring equinox, who's to make the call between ridiculous and reverent?
Many other raw food products--notably poultry from CAFOs--typically carry a much higher threat to human health in terms of pathogen load, and yet the government trusts us to render it safe in our own humble kitchens. But it's easy to see how impossibly strict milk rules might gratify industry lobbyists, by eliminating competition from family producers.
But still, I'd be darned if I was going to be one of those Americans who stomp around Italy barking commands in ever-louder English. I was going to be one of those Americans who traversed Italy with my forehead knit in concentration, divining wordsw from their Latin roots and answering by wedging French cognates into Italian pronunciations spliced onto a standard Spanish verb conjugation.
Modern US consumers now get to taste less than 1 percent of the vegetable varieties that were grown here a century ago. Those old-timers now lurk only in backyard gardens and on farms that specialize in direct sales--if they survive at all. Many heirlooms have been lost entirely.
What kind of weirdo makes cheese? It's too hard to imagine, too homespun, too something. We're so alienated from the creation of even ordinary things we eat or use, each one seems to need its own public relations team to calm the American subservience to hurry and bring us back around to doing a thing ourselves, at home.
Cooking is 80 percent confidence, a skill best acquired starting from when the apron strings wrap around you twice.
Most of us are creatures so comforted by habit, it can take something on the order of religion to invoke new, more conscious behaviors--however glad we may be afterward that we went to the trouble.
You can't save the whales by eating whales, but paradoxically, you can help save rare, domesticated foods by eating them. They're kept alive by gardeners who have a taste for them, and farmers who know they'll be able to sell them. The consumer becomes a link in this conservation chain by seeking out the places where heirloom vegetables are sold, taking them home, whacking them up with knives, and learning to incorporate their exceptional tastes into personal and family expectations.
Corn syrup and added fats have been outed as major ingredients in fast food, but they hide out in packaged foods too, even presumed-innocent ones like crackers.
Most people no longer believe that buying sneakers made in Asian sweatshops is a kindness to those child laborers. Farming is similar. In every country on earth, the most human scenario for farmers is likely to be feeding those who live nearby--if international markets would allow them to do it. Food transport has become a bizarre and profitable economic equation that's no longer really about feeding anyone ... If you care about farmers, let the potatoes stay home.
Even feigning surprise, pretending it was unexpected and saying a ritual thanks, is surely wiser than just expecting everything so carelessly.
Once you start cooking, one thing leads to another. A new recipe is as exciting as a blind date. A new ingredient, heaven help me, is an intoxicating affair.
Finally, cooking is good citizenship. It's the only way to get serious about putting locally raised foods into your diet, which keeps farmlands healthy and grocery money in the neighborhood.
Over the last decade our country has lost an average of 300 farms a week. Large or small, each of those was the lifes work of a real person or family, people who built their lives around a promise and watched it break.
Food culture in the United States has long been cast as the property of a privileged class. It is nothing of the kind. Culture is the property of a species.
Respecting the dignity of a spectacular food means enjoying it at its best. Europeans celebrate the short season of abundant asparagus as a form of holiday. In the Netherlands the first cutting coincides with Father's Day, on which restaurants may feature all-asparagus menus and hand out neckties decorated with asparagus spears.
Households that have lost the soul of cooking from their routines may not know what they are missing: the song of a stir-fry sizzle, the small talk of clinking measuring spoons, the yeasty scent of rising dough, the painting of flavors onto a pizza before it slides into the oven.
The average food item on a U.S. grocery shelf has traveled farther than most families go on their annual vacations.
More Barbara Kingsolver Quotations (Based on Topics)
Life - Mind - People - Love - Truth - Thought & Thinking - Soul - Time - Cooking - Dreams - Mothers - Home - God - Place - Forgiveness - Flowers - Death & Dying - Family - America - View All Barbara Kingsolver Quotations
More Barbara Kingsolver Quotations (By Book Titles)
- Animal Dreams
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
- Prodigal Summer
- The Bean Trees
- The Poisonwood Bible
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