III: FOOD CULTURE

nycc-horiz-beerIt is difficult to define food culture neatly but we know it when we see it. In general:

Food Culture achieves full flowering when people at large become knowledgeable gourmets, recognising and valuing true quality and the skill that lies behind it. True Food Culture provides the milieu and the market in which Enlightened Agriculture may flourish. The two belong together.

Here there is a series of wondrous serendipities. First, as described in Part II, enlightened agriculture focuses first on arable and horticulture, including animals as backers-up. It is also designed to be maximally diverse. So it supplies:

Plenty of plants, not much meat, and maximum variety.

As we will see, these nine words summarize all the best nutritional theory of the past half century.

But also, these nine words perfectly encapsulate the basic structure of all the world’s greatest cuisines. Traditional cooking in Italy, Provence, Turkey, Persia, Lebanon, India, Indonesia, and China is heavily based on cereals (mainly wheat or rice) and festooned with whatever fruit, vegetables, and nuts are in season, but uses meat and fish only sparingly, as it happens to be available: as garnish and as stock. Meat is eaten en masse only on occasional feasts.

Thus we find that good farming, sound nutrition, and great cooking complement each other perfectly. We are often told from on high and by well-meaning food writers that in a future world with little or no meat we will all have to eat austerely, and preferably be vegans. In fact as shown in Part II we can raise quite a lot of livestock. More to the point, we can easily raise enough livestock to support all the world’s greatest cuisines, and all the world’s greatest cuisines are rooted in peasant cooking, as the greatest chefs acknowledge; and peasant cooking is the brainchild of people at large, and is available to all of us. In short, the future belongs to the gourmet.

So we need not fear the future. We just need to relearn how to cook; and the kind of farming we really need should be led not by politicians and bankers or by their attendant intellectuals, but by cooks.

Of course, defenders of the status quo argue that real cooking allied to real farming will make food too dear. But that is another untruth, as we will explore.

We will divide this section into three parts:

NUTRITION

GOOD FOOD

COOKING

For the second two items – Good Food and Cooking – see Suzanne Wynn’s Food Culture column on the Campaign for Real Farming website (www.campaignforrealfarming.org).