Friday, December 16, 2011

Slow Food.

Slow Food USA is having some sort of problem, according to the article I read in Chow.  I think their problems are a little more... existential in nature.

The problem here is that the group itself is formed under a false premise.  Organic/natural foods aren't intrinsically better than conventional or 'mass produced' food.  You can think it tastes better as a sort of placebo effect, but nutritionally, an organic/natural version of a conventional food is the same.  Asking people in this country to pay more for their food is pretty insulting and shows a complete lack of understanding about economic development. 

Much of why we spend so little on food is because we have so much more money and spend it on other things, so as a percentage, we spend less on the food.  There's not a lot of people buying Xbox 360's and cars and flat screen tv's in Sub-Saharan Africa.  And many people there grow their own food, not because they're hip and socially conscious, but because they'd starve otherwise.  As subsistence level farmers, they HAVE to decide how much food they need to sell instead of eat.  Their incomes are practically non-existent.

Like most foodies, the Slow Food movement meant well, but were misguided, misinformed, and generally uneducated about food.  So what they did was substitute their opinions and feelings in place of facts and then built an institution around them.  To shore up that institution, they needed enemies and that's where corporations came in.  Most foodies are anti-corporatist, so for them, it was easy to direct vitriol and hatred to any 'big' entity.

Thoughts, feelings, accusations, paranoia, and conspiracy theories support the cause, not science.  They see science as part of the 'big' machine that exist only as Yes Men.  The problem with this is that any serious critique of a foodie movement like Slow Food shows that that they simply make oversimplified, and unsubstantiated good vs evil populist claims about food.


  1. I'd agree with you on organic vegetables, rice, and other plant products. There really isn't a difference nutritionally. Some farms are more sustainable for the land, but a lot just barely do the minimum to meet certification.

    I'd have to disagree on meats though. Although a lot of farms do the minimum to meet organic standards for meat, that's still a whole lot better than farms that are contracted through Tyson and the other big players that make them run their farms like crap.

    The best is going to farms and picking up meat yourself, which you can do in most places in this country including Ohio. It just takes some effort..and a freezer..and buying a lot at a time.

    Even if you can't do that, trying to stick to things that have a high chance of being farmed right (e.g. Bison) is a huge plus. It may be more expensive, but I know personally I can stand to eat less anyway.

    And you're statements on the cost of food are way off. Before subsidized farming, people in the US spend about 1/3 of their income on food. Today we spend a fraction of that. That is what gives us the extra cash to buy electronics, car, vacations and other luxuries.

    It was initially a good thing, but it's kinda turned into a "for better or for worse" thing. We eat a lot in this country, more than our bodies need to. Much of our food is made from cheap reprocessed corn, starch and partially hydrogenated crap. People see good food (vegetables, fruits, etc) as being too expensive (whether it is or isn't), so we eat fast food crap. I don't think food prices going up are a bad thing. If we stopped subsidizing overproduction and people though carefully about what they spent on food because it becomes valuable again, maybe we'd eat healthier and better as a nation.

  2. It's a somewhat elitist and narrow minded approach to food you have. Farms have every incentive to run efficiently and to balance that efficiency with safety. Why would Tyson want its contract farms to run like crap? Why would running like crap be easier for a contract(or any other) farmer? Do you associate efficiency with crap?

    As far as types of food goes, there is no such thing as crap... unless you are talking about actual fecal material. Any food can be eaten as part of a balanced diet. I know people that ate nothing but potatoes all day, every day for 2 months and lowered all of their biometric numbers while losing weight. I know of someone that lost nearly 30 pounds eating just snack cakes. I also know of people that have lost weight eating nothing but fast food. It's not the individual food or the type of food that determines health, but the totality of the diet combined with that person's genetics.

    To seriously advocate to inflation of food prices solves nothing and hurts the people you would want to help. Production efficiency and the relative low cost of food has enabled us to have a country with cities, non-ag industries, infrastructure, wealth. Low cost food and production efficiency means that less labor is needed to farm, which freed up many Americans to pursue other interests.

  3. I'm off to read the article. This is my first visit to your site but I'll be back. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary


Put your comment here, kind sir/madame. Try to cite sources when stating facts and refrain from off topic comments or hateful/nasty rhetoric.