From the Editor's Desk
All food comes from the earth.
This is at once a banal and profound statement. On the one hand it seems trite to point out that the origin of any nutrition is rooted in the energies of nature, whether of the land or sea. Yet on the other hand, our contemporary society does its utmost to disguise the source of our sustenance, wrapping around our provender all the trappings of marketing and packaging in a seeming effort to separate us from the true fount of our food.
We are repulsed at the idea of killing animals, yet we blithely buy the remains of slaughtered fauna at the supermarket as long as they are packaged neatly. We spurn the blemished vegetable or bruised fruit as an offense, yet we know that the actual taste and nutritional value are unaffected by the surface beauty of the crops we eat.
Why should this be? Why are we so chary of the origin of that which sustains our life?
Most chefs don’t share the qualms of us civilians. They aren’t afraid to muddy their boots picking turnips for their tables, or getting cold and damp while foraging for mushrooms in the fall. I was recently told about one local chef who goes out to the farm and picks out his own pheasants, kills them himself, and prepares them for his restaurant. I admire his steadfastness. While all of our ancestors did such things, it is hard to conceive of any of us doing that today.
I’m not advocating that we all embark on hand-butchering meat for our dinner—though there is a growing trend in the Northwest of what might be termed artisan butchery. Rather, I do advocate that we all make an effort to learn more about where our food comes from. The anonymous packages of meat and the unreal perfection of produce at our supermarkets give us a warped idea of what food is all about.
So I have a New Year’s resolution: I intend to get closer to my food and drink.
I will visit farms to better understand how they raise their products. I will join more than one Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) consortium. I will visit more winery tasting rooms, and buy direct from the winery. I will order more meat from the rancher. I will frequent farmers markets more often, and when I can’t do that, I will shop at markets that source organically and locally. And I will also educate myself on issues of local food economies, organic and biodynamic farming, food processing, and heritage breeds of everything from beans to beef.
Won’t you join me in this effort? Write and tell us what you’re going to do in 2010 to get closer to the source of your food; we’ll be glad to share your comments in upcoming issues of Northwest Palate.
Cole Danehower, Editor-in-Chief