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Monday, November 30, 2009

We the people who love food too much

We the people who love food too much

Every year we tell the story of pilgrims, coming to a new land to seek religious freedom, nearly wiped out by hunger and disease, and saved due to their resolve and some good advice by native Americans. I will not speculate on how much of that is true, but it is our story. We then tell the story of a meal shared to celebrate and express gratitude for their survival.

The original Thanksgiving feast was probably not much of a spread. We have gone far in the last 200+years to make amends for that. I personally never remember a Thanksgiving celebration when it was possible to fit all of the food I wanted on one plate.

Corn was one of the reasons that our predecessors survived. It grew easily, was forgiving of nasty weather and inadequate soil, and now is our major cash crop. We produce huge amounts of it, and so we make all kinds of stuff out of it, and instead of scrawny pilgrims, we are now round, well fed, and increasingly diabetic.

We continue to be a resolute and industrious people, and have fixed the problem of inadequate food supply, in spades. We make plenty of cheap food, and though starvation is by no means wiped out in the US, more of the poor are injured by access to cheap and abundant corn-based carbohydrates than are from inadequate calories. Like Scarlett O’hara in “Gone with the Wind’, we will “never go hungry again.”

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