Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The future of food

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Very interesting article by David Chang in Esquire:

Recently I was chatting with one of my purveyors about meat, prices, and the food chain. Michael raises Tamworth pigs in upstate New York and rocks his John Deere cap without a trace of irony. He’s an honest, upright citizen, a real person, not some revolutionary or back-to-the-land type. So it really chilled me when he said, “America better prepare for some uncomfortable changes. Things might get really ugly.”

You’ve seen the articles, right there on the front page next to equally uplifting stories about oil, the economy, and the war: The cost of food–of producing and procuring it–is soaring. In the restaurant world, it’s all anyone can talk about. And the thing is, this is no temporary spike; it’s actually a massive correction. · Ever since my parents came to America in 1968, it has been meat and milk 24/7. They emigrated from war-ravaged Korea and, like Americans coming out of World War II, they couldn’t believe–and didn’t resist–the Crazy Eddie abundance of the American agricultural industry. As far as my parents are concerned, meat grows on trees.

But guess what? The machinery that’s pumped so much meat into our lives over the last half century was never built to last, and now it’s breaking down big-time. Feed is more expensive. Gasoline is more expensive. Milk, rice, butter, corn–it’s all going through the roof. And for the foreseeable future, it’s not coming back down.

Farmer Michael’s feed costs have risen 400 percent in the last twelve months. To make a profit on the beautiful turkeys his family is raising in time for Thanksgiving, he’ll have to charge a hundred bucks a bird. At Momofuku, I’m paying 150 percent more for humanely raised pork belly than I was paying at this time last year. And at the hyperglobal megachains that feed most of America, the only way they’ll be able to keep selling one-dollar hamburgers is to grow their “protein units” in petri dishes, add even more filler to their products, and outright enslave the workers whose backs they’re already breaking to keep costs artificially low.

It’s depressing, this state of affairs, and sometimes I let myself wallow in it. But then I think about the opportunity this situation presents. Let’s allow these harsh new realities to force us to do something that Alice Waters has been advocating for decades: Let’s finally embrace the truth that food is not something to be taken for granted. As a culture, we need to be more curious about where our food comes from. We need to buy from farmers who are trying to do things the right way. We need to think before we eat.

If we do, we’ll find that …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 September 2008 at 11:48 am

Posted in Daily life, Food

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