A Sweeping History of What We Eat
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A Sweeping History of What We Eat

Animal, Vegetable, Molasses
History of food, from continuous to suicidal
By Mark Bitman

Mark Bitman’s latest book arrives on time. In the early weeks of his term, President Biden has not only reintegrated the Paris Climate Agreement, announced new emission reduction targets, and revoked permits to build and drill the Keystone XL pipeline at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge But climate change is also an essential. Considering foreign policy and national security, it directed federal agencies to invest in communities of color suffering the brunt of climate change, and the impact of this crisis on immigration and the economy. Promised to address.

But there is at least one area where Biden’s climate critics are skeptical: his approach to improving the food system. Tom Vilsack, named as head of the Department of Agriculture, is not just a catchphrase from Barack Obama’s era, but a Clinton-style, pro-corporate medium. Vilsack has promised to tap the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation to encourage sustainable and climate-conscious growing methods, but has said little about how farmers and farmers die in conservative and rural communities Let’s make plans for celebrating which is now the time for major change.

So Bitman’s “Animal, Vegetable, Molasses,” a comprehensive treatise on humanity’s relation to food, matches our moment – develops an essential sense of urgency, but makes no bones about the challenge before us . “You can’t talk about agriculture without talking about the environment,” he writes. “You can’t talk about animal welfare without talking about the welfare of food workers, and you can’t talk about food workers without talking about income inequality, racism, and immigration.” Every issue touches the other.

Recognizing the scale of the problem’s astonishment has led most writers to take some narrower pieces and go deeper. But Bitman clearly has the insane ambition of his undertaking (“probably too ambitious,” in a rascal, “you’ll be the judge of that”), often messing the reader with information with a wave of his narrative. If this seems a bit breathless at first, Bitman settles into his story soon, giving rise to a clear and compelling compilation of modern agriculture.

In particular, his rendition of the early mechanization of American Farm is epic and entertaining. We all drifted into the promise and possibility of new technology, so much so that the shift from agriculture to agribusiness, although we know it is coming, still gives a crushing blow. “It was not a completely malleable process, and some might even call it an acquittal,” Bitman writes, but “whether intended or not, the sad result of pushing standardized monoculture was that scientists and researchers allied to farmers Not with bankers, equipment manufacturers and sellers of seeds and chemicals. “

This is a deep insight – and indicates what may be Bitman’s greatest strength. He does not default in the case of some policy triumphs, who often seek to make every error a visionary or product of some unforgivable flaw. His careful avoidance of the difference between Joseph Stalin’s ignorant and ruthlessly statistical food policies and the American-style “praiseworthy behavior towards unruly corporateization” attitude is highly welcome. Similarly, he recognizes that the development of canned food and later fast food originated after World War II for the first time for the increasing importance of women in the workplace and the large number of middle and upper-class women. “The majority of domestic labor is doing it themselves.”

These nuances not only allow us to approach policy issues with greater complexity, but they also affect our ethics. By the time Bitmain reaches its final section, titled “Change”, he has earned the right to minimize the obvious flaws in our system. The petty ambitions that we have, which do not encourage us to go even here, have equally evaluated many unsuccessful attempts to reduce our errors. Bitman wrote, “Man’s influence on the environment is often unintentional and unpredictable,” but we must still recognize it and act accordingly. “Finally, he comes to a place that may be familiar to readers of Michael Pollan’s” The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “Raj Patel’s” Stuffed and Roasted, “or Tom Phippot’s recent” Perilus Bracey. ” The only solution is to focus on sustainability.

Nevertheless, I am freshly persuaded by Framing of Bitton. The feeding system, he notes, is not broken. In fact, it works almost entirely for large seed and chemical companies, and it also works well for “one-third of the world’s people for whom food is simply visible, eaten at will is.” But this means that the change will be opposed by those with the most power and will also be inconvenient for most Americans.

So it needs some rhyme in the early stages of mobilizing the public, and then, it needs equal measure of bold and sure-footed action. As Bitman clearly shows, we do not have the luxury of making or settling well-meaning wrongs for half-measures. Time for major changes.



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