Thursday, March 01, 2007

More on Pollan-Mackey

This discussion is from one of the political blogs I read daily, Daily Kos. There has been an increasing awareness of food politics over there — not even counting the prankish habit of printing recipes in response to "trollish" comments, originally intended to be annoying to the offending commenter, but inadvertently amassing a food-curious crowd.
So, tonight there is a discussion of the Michael Pollan-John Mackey conversation at UC Berkeley on Tuesday. It's somewhat naive, but it's fun to watch the participants develop their personal food awareness.
These are, for the most part, politically hip people.
But they're not necessarily culinarily hip people.
Overall, they're not food-politics people.
Well, maybe that's not odd. We're the vanguard over here, in the food blogosphere, even if we don't all think of ourselves as political.
But, you know? Eating is political.
They're learning.
But maybe not learning fast enough.
The presidential candidates, without enough discussion from knowledgeable food activists, are going to go into Iowa and campaign on "corn-ethanol-fuel."
GMO and subsidies. No thanks.
They know nothing.
We must do much more here, friends.


drbiggles said...

Mebbe, but is my eating political?


cookiecrumb said...

No, not yours, you bug.

Anonymous said...


1) I'm not quite sure I follow your argument here. In what way is that food discussion not hip? What would you do differently if you were directing the diary? The diarist has an almost cult following; if she is heading in the wrong direction, she's leading a number of people with her.

2) I'd love to see you do more discussion directing, poking, and prodding over there. As you know, we (the What's For Dinner? diarists) write about food from a -- well, what to cook for dinner point of view. We all three strongly believe in food-as-politics. We are trying to get people to cook, dammit, not just drive through the fast food place or call out for Chinese takeaway. A large component of our task is to teach about cooking good food, not whatever industrial foodlike products happen to be on sale this week at your local WalMart. On the other hand, we routinely are criticized for elitism. I mention Point Reyes blue cheese, for instance, and am soundly slammed because only the well-to-do can pay $25 a pound for it.

I'm not arguing or criticizing; I'm trying to understand your point of view and see where we're, in your opinion, going wrong.

Kate Petersen

cookiecrumb said...

Kate: Forgive me for being judgmental and using unkind language. To tell the truth, I don't often follow the food threads over at dKos, so I probably shouldn't have shot my mouth off.
All I meant by "culinarily hip" was that I think there's a level of discussion many food bloggers have already managed to move beyond, such as whether buying artisan cheese is elitist. (I'm afraid I was guilty of food blogger elitism here.) I think it's grand that the discussion continues in the blogosphere for those who are still learning, still asking questions.
As for teaching -- persuading -- people to cook in order to eat well and affordably, I salute you.
I agree. I should drop by the food diaries at dKos more; I don't even know when they routinely appear. I will click through on your link. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Late to the show (as usual) but I wanted to mention that I'm just trying to LEARN how to make healthy, sustainable choices.

I really enjoyed the Pollan-Mackey conversation and felt like I learned stuff. Then I read a lot of the bloggers who dismissed it or thought it was a big 'love fest' and I realized that most of you probably look at me as 'naive' and 'unsophisticated'. It was a tiny bit disheartening.

However, I'm still going to keep learning.

cookiecrumb said...

I'm still feeling bad for my arrogant post, but I did go back over to dKos to see what had struck me as naive. First of all, it's a cliche but not necessarily true that Whole Foods is expensive. It's wa-a-ay expensive if you buy hippie health products and prepared foods from the deli. But Mackey says his produce prices are sometimes lower than farmers' markets. So when I saw the diarist arguing that WF had cringe-able prices, I thought it was just recycled claptrap.
Second, I disagreed with the diarist's having elevated WF to temple-of-food status in her early food days, before she read Pollan. Why would anyone shop at (or exult) just one store?
But I didn't want to step into the fray... I'm still grateful and impressed that the conversation is up and going on dKos (although I find it a little weird that a site devoted to Democratic politics veers off in the diaries onto other subjects so much).
Learning, now, we can all use a little of that.
I learned something myself today.

Kate Petersen said...

Oh, goodness. I didn't mean to make you feel bad, and I didn't read your post as arrogant, judgmental, or unkind. I was really just puzzled and trying to understand your point of view, so as to correct any errors in my own writing.

(Our food diaries occur on Saturday evenings, posted usually around 4:30 pm Pacific time. Anonymous at 10:22 am, you are most welcome to come and learn and participate too.)

In an unusual coincidence, this very afternoon I set foot in Whole Foods for the first time -- the first store to open in Alabama. The prices were somewhat higher than the better-quality foods at Publix, but not appreciably. I specifically noted Organic Valley milk (about 30 cents more at WF) and boneless chicken breasts ($6.49/lb at WF for organic free-range chicken, vs $5.99/lb at Publix for vegetable-fed, all-natural chicken at Publix). Some items (organic pearl barley) were the same price as I pay at the locally owned crunchy granola store. So no, I wouldn't say that WF is horribly overpriced. The new store is not very convenient to me so I won't do much shopping there, but it's not prohibitively expensive.

As for the worshipful diarist -- she's very young. I remember being easily impressed once myself.

who finally remembered her Blogger password

cookiecrumb said...

Thanks, Kate.
This discussion has ignited new thoughts for me, and I may come back and talk about them. Particularly the "elitist" argument; man, that one chaps my hide.
I'll try to drop by tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for the tip.

tammy said...

Wow, what a grown-up exchange of ideas over here. I'm impressed with everyone all around.

cookiecrumb said...

Tammy: Shrug. I'm Mad and I Eat. xx

DairyQueen said...

This is funny, because that dKos post could have been written by me 10 months ago (pre-Ethicurean). It's amazing to see the discussion that followed ...there, and here.

Thanks for the heads up; I never would have found these "What's for Dinner" diaries otherwise.

P.S. You and Cranky want to be our dates again for the Farm Bill teach-in? I got 2 tix with your names on it...this time we'll go to dinner first.

cookiecrumb said...

DQ: I ought to go over and join the conversation there, but the site is so popular, it's hard to jump in. I lurk. (But maybe I'll see you over there sometime.)
Hey! Oh, yeah, we'll join you for the Farm Bill talk. I feel so honored. Thank you!

Ed Bruske said...

What "more" would you suggest we food bloggers do, politically and agriculturally speaking.

cookiecrumb said...

Hi Ed: It's all about education. Sometimes I feel we're preaching to the choir here in blogland, but I've found that individual one-on-one conversations -- not rants -- are effective.
In fact, not all food bloggers give a fig about politics, so I try to keep my posts light and fun to read and not off-putting, just to keep people coming back.
Oh, and educate yourself. I have so much to learn, and by prowling through the blogs, I find out where to get information.
(Of course, then there's all that other stuff like sending money to candidates you like and volunteering to hang door tags, but... you knew that.)
I'm coming over to visit your blog now; I love the title.