Indeed, much in the modern world we take for granted, losing sight of the basic mechanisms that govern our lives. Day after day, we perform the same rituals related to food, not noticing their influence on us as citizens. For example, takeaway food existed 5000 years before us on the streets of Ur and Uruk – the oldest cities on Earth. Markets, shops and cafes form the urban space in which we exist.
We treat food easily, without caring how many thousands of miles by sea or air overcame one or another food product, how many dozens of hands touched it, while in the pre-industrial era, the townspeople knew everything about food.
“The roads were packed with carts and wagons with grain and vegetables, river and sea ports – cargo ships and fishing boats, cows, pigs and chickens roamed the streets and courtyards.The resident of such a city could not not know where the food comes from: she was around, Grunted, smelled, was tangled underfoot. ”
Once to eat meat for dinner was a luxury. 12,000 years ago the glaciers retreated to the north. Migration of large animals and population growth forced people to change their eating habits from a meat ration to a cereal.
“The grain freed man, but at the same time, his cultivation condemned people to a life full of unremitting works that were regarded as a divine punishment.”
The village and the city had an equal status, since the townspeople understood perfectly who was feeding them. Such zones as fields and vineyards, were honored on a par with urban streets and buildings. Respect was expressed in the way the place was chosen for the founding of the city, in a series of rituals and rituals, in sacrifices. The fruitfulness of the earth was not something taken for granted. It had to be earned.
Think of miniatures from the magnificent Duke of Berry (a series of miniatures on the theme of “The Seasons”, whose authors are the Brethren of Limburg). Respect and love for agriculture have been preserved in the Middle Ages.
Such an attitude towards agriculture could not but arouse respect and honor to the Earth in general, to the one who owns it. Carolyn Steel paints pictures of feudal England. Why did feudalism collapse? No, not because of numerous uprisings of peasants, but because of inefficiency. With such a system of land ownership, it proved impossible to develop large cities.
When did the cities become associated with the life of the “civilized”, and the villages, on the contrary, with the life of the “primitive”? This trend was observed in England in the era of the Tudors, when secular life began to focus primarily in the city. There was some disregard for rural life, with its barbaric and rude activities, but as the cities grew and became contaminated, the attitude towards them changed for the worse. This is evidenced by the speech of Bishop of Worcester (1548):
“If the ploughmen in the village were as careless about their duties as the prelates, we all would very soon starve to death.”
The more luxuriant the cities became, the more suspicious the rural population became, which supplied these cities with food. Let’s recall the excerpt from the story of Jack London “Strength of the Strong”:
“The time will come,” he said, wiping his fingers on his hip, “when the fools are gone, and the others go ahead.” Nobody will fight with each other. “People will forget about the soldiers and guards on the walls, they will destroy the predators, and on the slopes of the hills As predicted by the Hairy, flocks of sheep will graze, and in the mountain valleys they will begin to grow corn and root crops.All people will be brothers, and there will be no lethargy to feed”.
So, the sprawl of cities and industrialization lead to a division between the village and the city, between producers and consumers, between natural food and food, which gets to us on the table.
“The habit of half-finished products is reflected not only in our health … If a person does not cook, he does not go to the local store for groceries, does not understand where the food comes from, does not control what gets into his body, does not know how his diet affects the food Ecology of the planet. ”
Nutrition is a culture and some degree of responsibility, and not blind absorption of food, primitive satisfaction of primary needs. On the example of his parents, Steele shows that events such as the Second World War gave people useful knowledge: at which season these or those vegetables are ripening, what to do with goose guts and how to determine the ripeness of fruit and the freshness of meat.
“I, like many people of my age, feel that the parental fear of throwing and spoiling food has been partly transferred to me.”
In the chapter “Garbage trophies,” Steele describes a modern still life: “beautiful but uneaten peaches and trash cans full of perfectly fit food: something is wrong in the realm of modern gastronomy.”
However, there is a way out! Steele encourages everyone to start small. Steele says that, firstly, we need to tie the beans on our plate with the person who raised it somewhere, the chicken in the sandwich with the live bird, and the taste, consistency and color of the food – with the weather and season. Secondly, we must overcome the fear of the village as something gross and barbarous.
“Food is a messenger of the village, a living part of the area where it is grown, so feed on what’s grown recently and nearby is not only advisable in the ecological plan, but also much nicer … Among the best dishes in the world are those that the Italians refer to la cucina Povera, – “eating poor people.” They are unusually tasty due to their simplicity and the fact that they are prepared from local seasonal products. ”
These and many other solutions are reported by Steele in his book on humanity and its changing eating habits, as if telling us that it is never too late to change and become better by starting, for example, with food.