Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I am taking a great class called Food Sociology. We are breaking down the food movement and its opposition. We just started a discussion board online for thoughts we have that we don't have time for in class and my professor (who is quite famous and an idol of mine but for now I will leave nameless) posted this article about how the film Food, Inc. is 'scaremongering' and, well, wrong. My professor then asked us to discuss why the intense reaction to the idea that food might be connected to many other things (i.e. climate change, health and immigration). Here is my response for those interested:
Calling the issues of the environment, health, climate change, immigration, etc "unrelated" to the food biz is blatantly inaccurate on even the most simple of levels.
Ironically using propagandist terminology such as calling people "scaremongers", "perishing" and "foodie elitists", using emotive persuasion with sadly flawed logical conclusions based on an appeal to family fidelity ("our parents gave us pesticide-laden foods, so how can they be so bad, because our parents are not bad people, right?") is just banal rhetoric meant to propel profits at the expense of people's happiness and health.
I think the reason that there is such an intense reaction to Food, Inc. in this piece has very little to do with food itself. I will start here and argue time and time again in class (and elsewhere) that people are not afraid that their food will be different--they are afraid that they may have to actually make a systemic grand revolutionary change. This is a reaction to socialism and to democracy and to equality. It is a reaction to giving and sharing. It is a reaction to a potential loss of complete control and a holding on to the neo-imperialist corporate social control that has over taken our economy (and, of late, with catastrophic result and implication).
And, in this sense, I would argue that the food movement needs to begin from a place that considers the politics of the aesthetics that surround food--meaning, how much does food imply choice, freedom, agency and money and what is it that the opposition truly reproaches? Is it organic food itself or is it the political and social implications (of what is really a necessary systemic change)?
For me, I see the opposition as fear of true democracy and equality. And I think we in the food movement need to begin not only from smaller, individual change, but as well recognize the greater economic/social/political implication behind our work in this regard--to have in mind an idea of true democracy or social equality behind our idea of organic food or when we make that trip to the farmer's market.