Why “Pre-Butt” Food Inc.?

Because, as I’ve written numerous times before, the pastry maker is the natural enemy of the organo-nut. Just about everything we pastry types touch is tied to technology in one way or another: milling (flour), refining (sugar), shipping (chocolate), the list goes on. Even the tools we employ are often highly technological. We also produce and consume quite a lot of concentrated carbs. Put it all together and you have a group of people that are practically (if not always philosophically) at odds with just about everything that has to do with organic food activism. Try going to an organic/local foods/vegan restaurant and asking for the pastry menu. You’ll see what I mean.

More than that, though, there are precious few others in the food blogophere who are interested in questioning this movement. In fact I suspect that most “foodies” consider themselves, by and large, members of the Pollan camp. They like to eat, they generally don’t like the idea of chemicals and additives, and want the highest quality foods that are available to them. There’s nothing wrong with any of that (just about every conventional and/or GMO farmer I know shares those attitudes). The problem is that few foodie types have ever taken much time to really investigate the agricultural system that’s responsible for delivering the groceries they enjoy so much. As a result they have little appreciation for the modern food system, its wonders or its limitations.

The people who work so hard within that agricultural system — who aren’t faceless corporate robots but people, many of whom run businesses their families have owned for generations — are well aware of those wonders and limitations. Indeed they’re at a loss to explain why they aren’t more apparent to the rest of us. Many of the farmers I know regard the conversations that take place in big newspaper food sections and on food shows with utter bewilderment. How could any half-way informed person ever believe such nonsense?

The problem of course is that we live in an insular world. Most people don’t have farmers in their families anymore. For them, the workings of the food system, like the electrical work in their homes, is mostly invisible. It’s that very insularity, of course, that provides people who write books like Omnivore’s Dilemma and make movies like Food Inc. with an opportunity. To do what? Simply, to advance an elitist, luddite agenda, one that is fundamentally threatening, not only to farming families, but to the core mission of agriculture: of feeding and nourishing the population of the planet.

I think it deserves a little scrutiny.

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