Maybe I should stable my high horse. I read the Murdoch Crier’s cheerleading piece on farmed salmon and wanted to blow it off as pinkwashing. Then I did some poking around for what it didn’t say. Turns out there really has been a literal sea change in the chicken of the sea. To the point that the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch now rates farmed Coho as a best choice. I still have qualms, because I’m haunted by the Scottish fisherman I interviewed eons ago who saw such a threat to the beautiful swimmers from the chicken-cooped kind, and because all these years of shunning the latter have left me with a taste for the wild ones. But it was one more reminder of how you need to read the business pages for your food journalism these days. So much else is just service.
Archive for the ‘fear of reincarnation’ Category
When a great friend in Philadelphia said he and his consort were planning to come north for the climate march, I hopped right up on my high horse and gave him an e-lecture on the futility of taking it to the streets — hadn’t we learned from the 2003 debacle, when hundreds of thousands froze our asses off before the illegal invasion of Iraq, only to be written off as a “focus group” by the White House and mere fodder for page A26 by the hometown paper? So what the hell was I doing standing outside the Dakota on Sunday midday, as close as I could get to the food contingent waiting to start inching down Central Park West to the “starting point” of the demonstration? I’ll blame some old Burgundies at a dinner of Fairway-frisky lobsters the night before; all the talk made me think maybe I should actually walk the walk rather than sit home posting endless links online.
I read crazy people, so I know the wingnuts perceived the demonstrators as “hippie filth.” (Seriously. In 2014.) Clearly they didn’t read any of the smart signs and T-shirts and banners, which were remarkably positive (I spotted only one Kochsucker message). But I’ll have to admit, after going through my photos and videos, after that hour and a half outside the Dakota: I’m not sure the food world was so well-represented. What I saw in that tight space were a lot of vegans out in force with healthier-than-thou smugness, and the indictments of beef and milk were over the top. For all the advocacy of “food justice” and clean water and rights for food workers, there were too many blinkered views of what’s really ailing this ecosystem. Years ago I read a sharp, unsettling piece in Harper’s that made a seriously persuasive case that it’s not just animal agriculture but all agriculture that should be banned for Earth’s sake. If we really cared, rather than beef-blaming and tofu-grilling we would be shooting elk and subsisting on wild plants — getting ourselves back to the real garden. Somehow I suspect marchers in leather sandals drinking soy milk are not going to buy that. The answer is far from simple. But at least I didn’t spot any signs blaming gluten for global warming.
Don’t ask why, but I had to spend way too much time recently in the baby food aisle of every store in our neighborhood. And there was not a jar of lamb and rice to be found, as the vet prescribed. There was, however, a generation of diabetics foretold. Nearly all the options, jarred or pouched, were fruit or fruity vegetable. Even the turkey had to be sweet-potatoed up. Maybe Darwin is intervening from the Great Galapagos Beyond, though. All those thirsty kids set loose in a water-deprived world will speed up extinction. And then the planet can finally right itself.
If sriracha met limes, the whole journamalism biz would blow up. The latest hysteria largely ignores the reality that you can still find the once largely uncelebrated citrus but will simply pay much more for much smaller fruit. Anyone who cooks by the calendar already knew that; only tasteless strawberries are cheap all year round because they have no season. What’s sad is, first, that Mexican growers are eating their seed corn because they desperately need the cash and, second, that most of the coverage of the latest “OMG, we’re going to thirst to death!” ignores one underlying reason for the shortage. Greedmeisters had this genius idea that farmlands could be turned into exurban sprawl for easy money from banksters. They paved citrus groves and put up what are now unsold houses. Now the country obsessed with “homeland security” has to rely solely on imports. A paragliding photographer friend has just provided visual evidence of China going down the same sad road, with rice paddies as the foundation for moatless wannabe castles. The epitaph for this world should be: You can have McMansions or margaritas. You can’t have both.
No wonder I’m distracted. There seems to be more than the usual amount of teh stupid burning lately. A chilling new aggregation of climate change reports makes it very clear we’re dinosaurs waiting to happen, fast, and still I see idjits asserting that “humans adapt very well — we build houses with furnaces or AC — so too bad about all the other species.” That’s like thinking you can just order in when the food riots break out.
As I keep saying, I am so glad I’m old and really hope there is no reincarnation. And I especially wanted to yell that the other Sunday when my consort and I were sitting at the window counter eating our Luke’s lobster rolls while watching a family with two little kids out at a sidewalk table. Partway through lunch the mom calmed the shrieking baby by giving her plastic tubular food, in the kind of unnecessary packaging that contributes to the garbage continents (no longer islands) clogging the oceans. I never understand how people can even bring kids into a doomed world to begin with, but seeing the obliviousness was as unsettling as reading this. Heckuva extinction you’re bequeathing her . . .
We get two newspapers a day except (until just recently) on Sundays, and one informed us that feedlots are now in withdrawal from something I didn’t even know existed: “Vitamin Z,” a growth additive that turns cows into “muscle-bound athletes” in a matter of weeks. I immediately clicked over to the hometown paper to see if I might have missed a big story, and at that point the keyword did not turn up a single instance. And this is so far beyond pink-slime-scary it’s insane. Cows are staggering into slaughterhouses after being drugged to fatten them without the need for suddenly pricey feed. Anyone who eats supermarket/burger-chain beef is ingesting a product so freaky it makes test-tube babies look edible. And yet whole business plans are built on a commodity that was never meant to be a commodity . . .
One of the most depressing stories I’ve read in some time was about a free summer lunch program for kids in one of the states that make up the richest country in the world. People are worried about ducks getting force-fed for foie gras, and here’s a whole generation being undernourished. What was doubly depressing was seeing what was on offer. Suffice it to say I’m just glad I grew up poor before Lunchables. Also, too: Call food stamps what they are — supermarket subsidies — and you’d see them busting the budget.
The older I get the happier I am to be past kiddledom, not least because the school lunch program in this country seems to be a cross between “starve the beasts” and “go all medieval on their guts.” My cranial sieve is notoriously unreliable, but I remember bringing crapwiches of peanut butter and brown sugar wrapped in waxed paper to school because my family could barely afford the 4 cents a day per spawn for a quarter-pint of milk. Whatever kids today are getting has to be better than that, even if the privileged are reduced to videographing the sins of the cooks. Although I wonder where the parents are, letting ‘em eat GMO corn oil instead of time-honored butter . . . .
Not to put too fine a point on it, and nothing funny to say about it, but every innovation like plastic spouts on milk and cream cartons is chipping away at a wonderful world. Look inside an albatross, one that’s fed on the garbage patch where so many of those conveniences wind up. We are on the road to Wall-E with no Pandora in sight . . .
Bad enough the icebergs are melting. Now iceberg lettuce needs its temperature checked to be sure it’s not melting into lethal slime. Good thing polar bears in zoos are spared both these days.
Only editors raised on hamburger that never needed helper could be swept up into the drought panic enough to produce this headline: “Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists.” Their message is “be afraid, be very afraid,” which is ridiculous — going meatless would not be the worst thing in the world (spend a couple of weeks eating in India and see if you ever miss red-blooded anything). The real scare is that there will not be enough water or arable land to produce protein substitutes for sacred cows on an overpopulated planet. Actual truth-tellers would type up a hed along the lines of “Food shortages could force Chipotle into leaving both rice and beans out of tortilla-free burritos.” And eventually: “Rat — it’s what’s for dinner.”
Relatedly, I really wanted to make fun of a stupid roundup on “food insecurity” with a link, but I can’t find the original (maybe for a reason). So I’ll just rely on trust, not verification to say it lamented that people are now so down and out they have to “create their own dressing.” If you can’t mix oil, mustard and vinegar, you probably shouldn’t be allowed down the Wishbone aisle. And it whined that people were reduced to buying canned rather than fresh fruit. If we had any sort of education in this country, those sad sack grocery baggers would understand they can buy several cans of no-sugar-added pineapple for one 50 percent-waste fresh one — not all canned is crap. Worst of all, it had people whimpering about having no hamburger. With no directions to the Goya aisle.
But I’m trying here. At this point there isn’t much left to say about the fact that movie theaters rigorously police outside food and drinks yet have no problem with “guests” strutting in with assault weapons and 6,000 bullets. And I anticipate no abatement of the insanity, given how inured Americans have become to not “rampage” but slaughter in so many fast-food joints over the years. But at least I understand why bottled water is, as James Fallows noted, one thing an Aurora-style mass murderer could not bring through airport security. If you have to pitch yours, you have to buy another. And what’s more lucrative than sugar water? Tap water in a fancy bottle in a non-compete environment.
Just watched this to be sure I wasn’t going to be accused of anything unoriginal after dillydallying before posting, but: I decided eons ago I’d prefer to be cremated once I join the choir invisible. Now I’ve learned, thanks to the most beautiful food story in donkey’s years, that it’s not the most environmentally sensitive way of disposing of a body bent over from carrying Baggus for years. Given that I spared the planet any resource-sapping spawn, I’m not going to worry too much about eco-karma. But this does have me thinking Starbucks opening in a funeral home is just perfect placement: Who wouldn’t enjoy thinking “ashes to ashes” while sipping that burnt brew?
Nothing funny about this, but we met up with friends for the awesome “Moonrise Kingdom” and they were all excited about starting to compost at the Greenmarket. I just said: “I didn’t even bring my reusable shopping bags tonight. Doesn’t seem like much point when they’ve found radiation in tuna 6,000 miles from Fukushima . . .” Maybe Wes Anderson can remake “On the Beach.” Fast.