Friday, February 18, 2011

What is your food rule?

Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, is working with Slow Food USA to compile a list of food rules.
I was drawn to the idea (Slow Food USA’s new campaign) at first by a positive inception: create an idea to help the community - contribute a food rule. I am willing to bet that this little psychological trigger has made a pretty good dent in the active users on social networks. From there, it’s viral: you receive it from a friend via email; you are asked to suggest an idea for the community - something you can do; you feel good about doing a good thing and you never even left that dented spot on your couch; you have to pass this on; you ask another friend to suggest an idea for a food rule to the community, it’s a positive action, so your friend follows the instructions; repeat.

If our government is failing in regulating (or deregulating) the food system, we should at least suggest some good social rules and maxims to help us navigate through the gigabits of undigested information and astronomical variations on recombining what is not food to make food.

I believe we are a unique people to accomplish this. America is a diverse place, full of cultures ancient in their relationship with food. We are the world capital of the great omnivore’s experience. There have been countless brave immigrants, searching for a free place to live, and along with their hopes they have brought their best contribution to society. Without them, we couldn’t begin to imagine - no pizza, no sweet and sour, no gyros. If America is to gradually redistribute our cultivations, restore our land integrity, and develop sustainable food practices locally, America cannot ignore the chance of collecting a multi-cultured food philosophy! There are wisdoms embedded in the very veins of this country that can help us develop a deeper understanding of food and its role in our lives.

I think of our desire to contribute and our collection of food cultures as our societal leucocytes.

Let’s not forget that we have a good reason to act: food prices are on a rise, the sooner we develop self-sufficiency the better we are equipped to deal with food emergencies. Slow Food made some serious investments and hired pros to do this kind of smooth marketing work to make it viral. It’s about time. I’ve always heard NGOs refer to “preaching to the choir,” but now we have an organization taking steps to preach it to the public. I commend them on their work and I encourage you to lend them a hand in this great social experiment.

In the next few days, I will share my food rule, one I learned as a child from a Chinese poem: Respect your food, every part of it; respect it because it is real and you've done the hard work of transforming it into a conversation we have with our families.


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