Gourmet has an interesting Q&A with Tom Standage, Economist business editor and author of the new book An Edible History of Humanity. Standage says that food has driven our technological evolution, citing maize and other staple crops as the foundations of civilization. Makes sense, but he makes an interesting point about how this might be what has led to the fetishization of growing our own food.
“People think it’s important that we don’t lose this connection with where our food comes from. But most of them couldn’t tell you how their computer worked, or fix their own car, or do plumbing. I can’t do any of those things, which is why I pay someone else to fix my car… This is what Marie Antoinette did before the French Revolution. She was dressing up as a peasant girl and milking cows. (But of course the cows were very carefully cleaned so she wouldn’t have to see the mud!)”
So, have the farm-to-table movement and the popularity of urban gardens really brought us closer to our food roots, or are we just playing farmer to serve our own romantic notions of what the job actually entails (or once entailed before the advent of industry)? And, if it’s the latter, what’s wrong with a little role-playing in the dirt?