Food Politics Can Be Funny!

Rain, yay!  My two little vegetable plots will be so happy.  Perfect day to prepare for the first meeting of the North Palm Beach Slow Food Book Club this week, courtesy of Slow Food Gold and Treasure Coast and Books-a-Million in Jupiter, November 13, 6-8 pm.  Our first book, Marion Nestle’s latest title, Eat Drink Vote, is not only a wry nod to the earlier best seller on a completely different Eat-Drink-Vote-Cover-Imagesubject, it is also wry on its own account, which is a good stance to take in the world of food politics.  By that I — and the book, mostly — mean the disconnect between what is known to be healthy for humans and what provides the most profits to those who grow and process food, and the role government plays (huge!).  Food politics, of course, also plays out in more personal ways when people who have every right to seek out what is best for their own health, turn it into a food fight.  But that’s a topic for another time, maybe.

It seems especially poignant to be reading Eat Drink Vote a day after the banning of trans fat, which gives me hope that eliminating HFCS and GMO seeds from American food production may also be possible in my life time.  And it’s probably no accident that I’m reading this book during a period of concentrated work on Symphony of the Soil, which comes to a close November 17 with the local screening.  Healthy soil = healthy crops = healthy food.  Thank you, Deborah Koons Garcia!

How we feed ourselves and the impact on the environment (soil, water, air) and other creatures have been inseparable concerns since the summer day I found, in a Cape Cod vacation rental, a little book called The Higher Taste compiled by The International Society of Krishna Consciousness based on the teachings of its guru.  I won’t say everything in that small volume resonated with me, but it did make me quit eating red meat.  And if that wasn’t enough, my work in public relations took me to a meat packing plant in the Midwest around the same time.  Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet followed and more recently the work of Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan.

So, what do you do with a book that is almost 50 percent cartoons?  Exactly.  So I already know I’m not going to learn a whole lot from Eat Drink Vote about how we got into this mess.   The very first cartoon is on the cover — an upended pizza slice labeled New Congressional School Lunch Food Pyramid — will tell you where Nestle is going.  And I also realize that Fixing the Food System: The Food Movement (Chapter 10) depends upon “participants in this movement [voting] with their forks every time they make a food choice.”  This is the only way to get something done in our democracy, it bears repeating.  So, even though Eat Drink Vote is preaching to a convert, I love a good argument, especially when it tickles my funny bone.

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