Front page, Miscellaneous, Open Source Intelligence

In praise of fast food

16 Mar 2015

In this article, issued by the Utne Reader (USA)  which publishes  books extracts, Rachel Laudan dare to tell the truth : “We need a culinary ethos that comes to terms with industrialized food”

“For our ancestors, natural was something quite nasty. Natural often tasted bad. Fresh meat was rank and tough, fresh fruits inedibly sour, fresh vegetables bitter. Natural was unreliable. Fresh milk soured; eggs went rotten. Everywhere seasons of plenty were followed by seasons of hunger. Natural was also usually indigestible. Grains, which supplied 50 to 90 percent of the calories in most societies, have to be threshed, ground, and cooked to make them edible.”

« The sunlit past of the culinary Luddites never existed. So their ethos is based not on history but on a fairy tale.».

In the good old times, food was unsafe, humdrum, and time consuming. And “If we romanticize the past, we may miss the fact that it is the modern, global, industrial economy (not the local resources of the wintry country around New York, Boston, or Chicago) that allows us to savor traditional, fresh, and natural foods. (…) Culinary Luddites are right, though, about two important things: We need to know how to prepare good food, and we need a culinary ethos. As far as good food goes, they’ve done us all a service by teaching us how to use the bounty delivered to us by (ironically) the global economy. Their ethos, though, is another matter. Were we able to turn back the clock, as they urge, most of us would be toiling all day in the fields or the kitchen; many of us would be starving. Nostalgia is not what we need. What we need is an ethos that comes to terms with contemporary, industrialized food, not one that dismisses it; an ethos that opens choices for everyone, not one that closes them for many so that a few may enjoy their labor; and an ethos that does not prejudge, but decides case by case when natural is preferable to processed, fresh to preserved, old to new, slow to fast, artisanal to industrial. Such an ethos, and not a timorous Luddism, is what will impel us to create the matchless modern cuisines appropriate to our time.”

Our point of view : There is a widely spread misunderstanding about fruit and vegetables. With romantic eyes, People see them as “natural”

But, in fact, if they can provide vitamines, frshness, diveristy, tastes, …it is indeed because they modern, and in a certain way “industrial”: they are the result of a long genetic selection, of science based agricultural practices. And modern techniques improve their shelf life.

It is this contradiction, very well explained in this article, that our society have to deal with.

Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle /
Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle /


[1] Les luddites sont des passéistes radicaux prêts à détruire les machines modernes pour revenir au passé, tel Ned Ludd, ouvrier militant anglais légendaire de la fin du XVIII° siècle. Voir article de Wikipedia.