The woman of 1796 knew such things as the origin of the greens she put on her table and the life details of the lamb, chicken or beef she served. Today we know precious little about the processed and convenience foods we eat, putting our trust in product name brands or the name of the supermarket where we make our purchases. Those who produce, advertise, and sell us our food are counting on our ignorance as they cultivate our trust.
Concerns over commercialized farming, packaging, food additives and colorings are by no means peculiar to our generation. For example, uncertainty about the safety and quality of canned food goes back to the early 1800’s. You would be surprised how the early production and sale of margarine caused quite a controversy. It would seem that since then we’ve made great strides forward in how our food is produced and processed. Nonetheless, wouldn’t you think by now we wouldn’t be having massive e. coli and Salmonella contaminations of major food items? All that we call progress is not always progress as we believe it should be. It’s no wonder that today there’s a growing interest in organically grown foods and gardening with non-hybrid seeds.
Vileisis discusses the move from a rural to an urban lifestyle, the growth of industrialization, changes to our transportation system, advertising and the media, and the impact of two world wars. She also looks at how our attitudes have changed about nature, the environment, immigrants, class differences, and other topics we might at first not associate with food production. She clearly makes the case that food and how it comes to us are a part of our history and present lives in ways we simply don’t realize.
As I read Kitchen Literacy, I thought of my grandparents and great grandparents who had large gardens, canned produce they kept in root cellars, butchered some of their pork and beef and made their own butter. Those who still do so are rare these days. If you’re raising livestock and farming organically, you’ve faced the issues of food production close up. If you’re considering going back to the land, this book will bring to light some aspects of producing your own food you may not have thought of.
Get your copy of Kitchen Literacy by clicking on the book’s title wherever you see it linked in this post. You’ll be taken to the page where it’s featured, and you can place your order there. Take advantage of the opportunity this enlightening book gives you to expand your personal education. Being better informed about what you eat could have an impact on your health and survival.