Mark “The Minimalist” Bittman has a lovely, straightforward (if opinionated) approach to food, so I suppose it makes sense that he’d a have similar approach to the politics of food. With the chattering class — and the Washington Post — focused on how expensive food is getting, he has a bracing blog post up today reminding readers that, in the U.S., we still stuff ourselves pretty cheaply. And why is that? He summarizes a recent Pew report:
The reasons I do get are these: There are the “efficiencies” of industrialized production, not only of animals but of crops: the length of time it takes to bring a chicken to market has been cut just about in half since the end of World War II, and the yields of some crops have more than doubled per acre. These so-called efficiencies include monoculture, extensive use of fertilizer and factory farming — the whole package.
A second and related factor is the hundred-year-long experiment with spending down just about every available natural resource we’ve inherited from thousands of generations of our ancestors: oil, of course, but other mineral resources, land, water, oceanic resources and air as well. (We could list the relatively good weather our farmland receives, and wonder whether we’ve squandered that too.)
Something to think about on the way to Whole Foods.
(Bittman’s “Bitten” blog — fun to say — is, generally, really good; check out his entries about a recent trip to Italy for nice color and excellent recipes. I’m thinking of making the carbonara for lunch…)