Monday, September 21, 2009

Food Activism for Lazy People

So I'm increasingly fascinated by the politics of food. I grow massively annoyed by the marketing of "green" as an upscale lifestyle choice--I'm out of work right now aside from whatever freelancing I can cobble together, and I cannot afford to buy my groceries at the local organic food co-op, which sells the same things as Whole Foods but is even more expensive (though at least it's not a rotten corporation). I buy cheap food at the cheap bodegas and might have to make a trip to the grocery superstore a few blocks over, and cheap food mostly translates to cereal, rice, pasta, and frozen vegetables so I don't die of scurvy.

I do spend a few extra bucks on fresh apples and other fruit, at the local farmer's market if I can manage it.

Then the other problem: I don't cook. I am almost 30 and I doubt that at this point I'm going to turn around and decide I love cooking, and though Michael Pollan's right about a lot, he's not going to be able to talk me into liking cooking the same way that hundreds of earnest people have not been able to talk me into liking the Beatles.

Much the same as the Beatles, I understand that cooking is important. I just don't enjoy doing it. Moreover, at this point I feel GUILTY for walking away from the computer to spend half an hour or more in the kitchen when I have work to do, and when I've reached my quota for the day, I don't feel like doing any more work.

And there are many people out there who have less money, less education, and less free time than I do.

So, where's MY cookbook? I don't need 30-minute meals, I need 5-minute meals. Organic farmer's markets aren't going to solve my food dilemmas as long as the food at the crappy corporate grocery is cheaper.

I'm interested in urban gardening and real food co-ops and ways that people can provide real food activism that isn't preachy and condescending. I'm interested in ways we can make our food better for us, better for the environment, and available to all. Eating healthy shouldn't be a privilege, and climate change will never be addressed if only the top 5% of the country can afford to "live green."

I'm betting Erik has some thoughts on this, since the intersection of his academic work--labor issues and environmental issues--is really what I'm talking about. But I want to hear from everyone. Unless you're going to tell me to learn to cook (or just listen to the Beatles one more time, man...)