I write about the passion I have for food - its tastes and textures, the variations that come with different spices or cultural evolution, and how it affects the rest of my day. All this seems normal to me but every once in a while I do remember that there are people who don't relate to food in the same way. For some, food is really just a means to an end; eating a meal is just a fuel stop. But I don't think that means they don't enjoy the experience, perhaps the company or the memory that might go with a food item. After all, Tim Hortons TV commercials wouldn't be nearly as poignant if they just showed people drinking coffee without showing us where they are or who they share it with, would they?
So am I a food snob ? Did the enthusiasm from foodies like me inspire the market to offer exotic ingredients on a more regular basis?? Am I to blame for the impression we have as a society that the value of food is only as much as the latest grocery flyer says? This may sound like faulty logic but I have started to wonder if we are reaping the harvest sown from our own greed.
When I was a kid, many of the foods that are imported from faraway places were rare, expensive, and only seen at certain times of year. Gradually it got easier for those foods to become more common on grocery shelves; the world got smaller. And then stores got bigger. And then prices dropped and you could buy a pineapple for $1.99 or kiwi 3 for a dollar. Pretty soon it was cheaper to buy a plastic box of tomatoes from Mexico or Chile than it was to buy the ones from the local farmer's market. Now you can get just about anything you want - ingredients or prepared food - at Costco and places like it. It's been transported many miles, and kept "fresh" by the wonders of technology. Am I committing a foodie sin if I shop at those big box places??
We live in a regulated world. Things have order, even the food we eat. We like our carrots straight and our tomatoes ripe and our apples unblemished. Of course nothing is perfect. So, what happens to all the curly carrots and unripe tomatoes and blemished apples? They are part of the "waste" that is calculated in the food system - the stuff that farmers might be able to sell for animal feed, or might have to leave in the ground to compost. Should our quality standards include appearance? Should we be concerned about a system where close to half of food produced around the world ends up as waste, and at the end of the day we have a food shortage for the current world population??
I used to think we'd come a long way from the days when my Mom said, "Eat your crusts, there are children starving in Africa." Now I'm not so sure...
If you would like to read the rest of my inner debate on this topic, go to my Happy Gourmand blog - and please, feel free to add your comments.
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