For a skinny kid, I think a lot about food. Not so much the tastes and textures, but the politics, value-systems, and rhetorics that surround its place in culture. There is a developing food movement in this country; it’s comprised of many sub-movements based around the concepts and practices of “organic,” “sustainable agriculture,” and “slow food,” with “local” similarly occupying a prominent position.
We’ve not only seen the items on our supermarket shelves change over the past few years, we’ve witnessed the surrounding rhetoric shift in places and intensify in others. With the introduction of genetically modified foods in the early 1990s, the expansion and entrenchment of industrial farming and monocrop culture, and the consolidation of powers that control the entire system, the message that accompanies food has increased in significance, adopting narratives of progress in some sectors, while remaining obstinately old-fashion in others. For example, listen to Michael Pollan kick off the powerful documentary, FOOD, Inc., with a quick, but incisive rhetorical analysis on some of the persuasive techniques used to sell food:
(Perhaps y’all could chime in with some of your favorite rhetorical approaches and we can keep this conversation going . . .)
Of course, our movement is mirroring those elsewhere throughout the world. It’s distinct, however, given our consumer-centric society and place in the hierarchy of consumption (we comprise about 5% of the world’s population and consume roughly 1/3 of its meat). Food Sovereignty Movements are in nascent stages across Africa, Europe, and South America. Soon enough we will also be in a position where one must declare (as ludicrous as it sounds) the right to grow food and have a say in where the rest comes from.
Currently, however, the word “organic” is the dominant term in our food conversations. The term carries vast and various associations and values that go far beyond a simple label indicating how the food was raised. Here’s some fodder for you rhetoric junkies: The Daily Show’s look at the White House’s organic garden reveals a struggle over which values will get associated with organic. Enjoy watching while I go hunt down some articles on the rhetoric of “organic” for a future blog post . . .
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Little Crop of Horrors|