I think, in this day an age, of rampant consumerism and overconsumption, there is something nice about making something or growing something. In a world of mass-production, it feels good to have a homemade sweater. And in the world of supermarket blandness, which is a mass-production of another sort, it is nice to have the ability to eat a carrot that is purple or a tomato that is blue or a corn cob that isn’t yellow.
To have something that you can quantify into time spent or stages of care, helps you respect both the process and the outcome. I’m less likely to waste a cabbage that’s browned if I have spent the last 10 weeks watering it daily.
And seeing as the food we choose to eat is one of the most important things we can do with our bodies, I think it’s a pretty good thing to know where it comes from.
This thinking was further backed up by the Netflix seriesCooked, which I binged through in one sitting this week. The series follows food writer Michael Pollan as we watch him wax lyrical about food, its impact on our culture, capitalism’s impact on our food, and what the future holds.
Needless to say, I went and made kimchi with that browning cabbage.
Right now, it’s important to me to know where my food is coming from, but also to know where I can get more of it. It’s not a petty bourgeois hobby, it’s a genuine desire to not lose sight of a process and at the same time connect with that production of something. It’s also knowledge, and knowledge is power in, say, a post-apocalyptic context…
To respect food and ingredients, you need to know what it took to get them. There is also such a choice that comes with the knowledge of how to grow, something that is lost on the supermarkets which give you the illusion of choice but deliver anything but.
For now, as the weather begins to warm, and my seedlings need nothing more than the odd drink of water and the occasional transfer into a bigger pot, I’m going to sit back with Michael Pollan’s back catalogue and have a think about food and growing in the wider context. I urge you to do the same.