So I got a book out of the library the other day: Food Security For The Faint Of Heart
The author was writing in British Columbia – a climate not that much like Eastern Ontario’s, but not that different, either – and the “for the faint of heart” title sounded promising.
And it was okay. There were bits in there that were really smart — suggestions like “start slowly; pick a couple of things you want to accomplish every year” rather than trying to go from “typical Canadian food supply” (grocery stores, mass-production, etc) to “I have a flock of laying hens, a 2-acre organic garden, and hunt my own venison” all in one go. Because gods know that anyone who tries to make a complete switch from one (familiar and also easy) lifestyle to another (totally unfamiliar and, fyi, not easy) lifestyle all at once is probably setting themselves up for frustration, failure, and a lot of other f-words.
There were also handy tables about what is likely to come into season when (in BC), with suggestions on how to recalculate things for an approximation of your own area, as well as suggestions for how to stock up on dry goods all at once, and how to calculate how much flour or oil or whatever you go through in a given year.
So, yes, there were definitely some good bits.
There were also – and given the title of this blog-post, I’m sure this comes as no suprise – some bad bits.
What I’m getting at here is that there are a tonne of “food style” books – whether that “style” is ethical omnivourism, raw food, organic everything, gluten-reduction (maybe less this, as there are medical reasons people go in for celiac or diabetic cooking), or veganism – that do this Thing where there are Good (as in morally superior/desireable) foods and Bad (as in morally inferior/suspect) foods.
I’ve seen it in Laurel’s Kitchen (I may love her bread-stories, and her tea buscuit recipe, but a lot of her politics is sort of desperately dated and makes me twitch); I’ve seen it in How It All Vegan (and, actually, in any number of vegan cook books, many of them a whole lot more-so – thense HIAV’s continued punk-ass presence on my cookbook shelf, while most of the others have been long-since shipped to the used book store or re-homed elsewhere); I’ve even seen it in Animal Vegetable Miracle (which I adore rather more than a little bit). I’ve seen it in more than a couple of self-sufficiency books, and the odd kink how-to as well.
It isn’t a genre thing, I don’t think — but it might be a “fringe movement” thing.
I’m surely guilty of this myself – I know I used to cut salt out of absolutely everything because it was (for some reason I couldn’t even tell you now) on my Bad List – but it still drives me nuts to see that stuff in print, particularly in books that are supposed to (a) be approachable, and (b) turn you on to a particular way of eating/thinking/cooking.
Prases like: […] and “white death” (aka “refined”) sugar… well, we won’t get into the politics of that[…]
Eugh. Why bother “getting into the politics of that” when you’ve just smeared your views all over the page…
It comes across as a bait-and-switch kind of nastiness — presenting your work as an “everyone into the pool!” style how-to, and then making it clear that you’re snearing down your nose at everyone who doesn’t already believe the same things you do, or to the same degree.
Unimpressed, author. Unimpressed.
Anyway. Moving right along.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.