Our Choices, Our Future (for food)

Rachel Laudan is a food historian, author, and visiting scholar at the University of Texas at Austin. Her book Cuisine and Empire, “shows how merchants, missionaries, and the military took cuisines over mountains, oceans, deserts, and across political frontiers….By emphasizing how cooking turns farm products into food and by taking the globe rather than the nation as the stage, she challenges the agrarian, romantic, and nationalistic myths that underlie the contemporary food movement.”

Her article in Jacobin magazine, A Plea for Culinary Modernism, turns the thinking of Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Marion Nestle, and others of the organic slow food movement, on its head.

The [culinary] Luddites’ fable of disaster, of a fall from grace, smacks more of wishful thinking than of digging through archives. It gains credence not from scholarship but from evocative dichotomies: fresh and natural versus processed and preserved; local versus global; slow versus fast: artisanal and traditional versus urban and industrial; healthful versus contaminated and fatty. History shows, I believe, that the Luddites have things back to front.

She is sharp, insightful, provocative, and always worth listening to.