When I was younger, I had a dream of attending the Cordon Bleu in Paris and becoming a great chef. My passion was fueled by the great Julia Child, by Jacques Pepin, even by the Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr (you really must go watch this).
Then I found out how hard it is to be a chef.
Not so much that it’s intellectually hard (which it is, but of which I have no fear), but that it’s physically demanding. On your feet for 12 hour stretches (or more). Hauling gi-normous kettles full of water from the sink to the stove. Mincing onions and garlic and peeling potatoes pound after pound after pound. Plus the stimulus-saturated work of cooking on the line.
You have to be a certain kind of person to withstand demands like that. I am not that certain kind of person.
Then I thought maybe I would be a food writer, like Elizabeth David or M. F. K. Fisher, or the haughty and opinionated Richard Olney. That was right up my alley. Eat everything in sight, and then sit down to write about it.
But food writing is a crowded field. I didn’t have the confidence to dive in.
I went on to do other things – things that had nothing to do with food. Meanwhile, I kept on cooking and baking and feeding the people I love.
My primary expression of love is cooking a meal. My primary expression of creativity is cooking a meal. My primary intellectual pursuit is cooking a meal.
I’ve made some good meals, if I do say so myself. Virgo Man laments that if he likes something I’ve cooked, he may never taste it again, because I don’t really cook that many things more than once – even if they turn out great. I keep striving, learning, exploring. I just plain love to cook, and I just plain love to feed people.
I notice that I have come full circle. The younger me thought I would cook for a living, or at least write about food for a living. The realist me made a living doing other stuff. The mature me (not to put too fine a point on it or anything) realizes that food is my dream revolution.
How so? And what does this have to do with money?
It’s this. Human beings share a few common needs. Food is one of them.
Food is primal. It’s elemental. It’s shared, and easily understood. Without it, we die. Furthermore, our heritage, our economy, and our culture have all been shaped and molded by the imperative to get food. In a world where our heritage, economy, and culture seem tossed into a cocked hat, what is our best chance of restoring our lives?
In my opinion, it’s food.
A day does not pass without every human being thinking some thought about food.
Time cannot advance without attention being paid to the procurement of food.
Security means having enough to eat.
Danger means having nothing to eat, and no prospects for getting something to eat.
Meanwhile, the food supply is dominated by faceless, soulless industrial giants who make stuff called pink slime and then sue news outlets for telling the truth about it.
So there you go. You say you want a revolution? Then make one small decision today to eat differently.
You don’t have to go crazy or anything. But you could decide to swear off processed food for a month. Of you could decide to eat seasonally (no pink tomatoes in December!). Or you might buy sustainably farmed coffee, or buy a dozen local eggs whose yolks are as vibrant as sunshine. You could buy everything you eat for a week at a local farmer’s market.
Will it cost you more than you’re used to paying? Maybe; it depends on how you eat and where you shop. But maybe not. And know this: whatever you are paying for industrial food, there is a cost you don’t always readily see. The cost is to the health of the economy, the life of your community, and the well-being of your culture – to say nothing of the environment.
Do you dream of changing the world? Eat something local this week.