or Why we need more local proudness.
Food is central in building civilizations. Grains and staple crops have been crucial in the development and growth of ancient empires and entire modern nations. The United States wouldn’t be number one without the #2 Yellow Corn and soybeans. But a time for a new civilization seems to be in the near future. Not one of hegemony but one of diversity of federalized knowledge.
Globalization reduced hunger and put a terrible curse in our food. It made it bland and anonymous, mostly a meme. A mere artifact, not a totem anymore. Plates and Recipes used to be a tradition, a cultural reference, a lineage of origins, a way to tell the stories and to load them with community values. Mayans praised the Corn Plant, taking care of it and making sure to do the best out of it. Nixtamalization was born and Corn became Culture. But, in the modern world, we have failed to continue or even to create new culinary traditions that represent our locality. Instead, we have been indoctrinated in the fast-foods and the bland mass-appealed glob. We have lost our sense of local food identity. Some places still try yo keep it, but mostly relegated to old houses and soon-to-die tradition keepers.
This is unfortunate and could be tragic for our species survival. Food Locality plays a key role in developing biodiversity in our diets. We eat the bugs of our context, we enjoy our own dirt. Unfortunately, we are living in an old paradigm. The one that maximizes efficiency over resiliency; that has avoided to pay the price of all the externalities (destroyed local environments, lost of local production, increased fuel emissions and poor nutritional value; a reality I think would change soon); that is too global. We thrive in our local environments, the world is now smaller but our communities need to be even closer.
We should eat the fruits produced in were we live, mostly because those are the most responsible and adapted nutrients to the region, but also because is the way to enjoy and be proud of our locality. The nourishment of the body, and the one of the spirit. Common food that join us as a bond, like a local sport or a famous artist. We are imprinted in that dish, like flat pizza and New York City.
I am happy and exited for the efforts that Dan Barber and Michael Mazourek are doing with 7 Row Seeds, as a way to revive and create the new local flavors, and with it the culture that surrounds it. We need more of that. More people that look for foods and traditions that make them proud and ready to share them with their neighbors and the world. That become epicenters of knowledge and flavor, that provide new experiences for others to enjoy. This is the way the new local economies will grow, not thru exporting of bland commodities, but with the growth of local richness, flavor and unique experiences.
Food will transform from global to federalized. From uniform to diverse. From globalized to localized. From toxic to nourishing.
I invite you to be part and find what in your local area makes you proud. Hit me an email with your answers.