April 7, 2017

Food and survival.

I eat too much. It’s something I’ve known for years, and though I make valiant attempts to curb my appetite, the honest truth is that I enjoy food too much, and because of this, I consume more than I should.

When food has become art and not just sustenance, we no longer eat to survive; we eat because we thrive. Below, some articles about food, about survival, and about how the way we eat says a lot about who we are.

We Like Your Food But Not Your People’: Unpacking The Myth Of Toronto’s Diverse Food Scene, Sara Peters:

I’m not saying white people can’t eat or cook foods from other cultures, but there’s a structural pattern where white people are more likely to profit from other cultures than the people from those cultures themselves.

There are countless examples of the authority that white people (primarily affluent white people) are granted in Toronto’s food market, especially in the media. A recent interview with Rose & Sons chef Anthony Rose on their new Chinatown Sundays” menu described Rose’s take on Chinese food as elevated”. The interviewer has since apologized for their wording, but the question remains: why don’t people want to eat their Chinese food at a Chinese-owned restaurant?

When white people want to eat non-Western food but they don’t want to be in the presence of other racialized people, I think that’s when these specialized ethnic’ menus by white chefs become so popular. That’s my hypothesis” said Lorraine. It’s white people being served by other white people, with food that’s made by white people and it’s like, We like everything about this culture except for the people, like we just want to have the experience without any attachment.’ That’s what makes me uncomfortable. As usual, people of colour are left out of the story.”

Survival of the Friendliest, Kelly Clancy:

Long periods of harmonious co-existence may be the evolutionary precursor for true symbiotic relationships. Billions of years ago, another ancient cyanobacteria was engulfed and domesticated” by an ancestor of plants. It shed most of the genes it needed for an independent existence and became what we now know as the chloroplast. In return for a safe environment, these chloroplasts performed photosynthesis for their hosts, fueling a new form of life that eventually spread over much of the Earth. It’s likely this same kind of division of labor was a seed for the development of multicellular organisms. Here, evolution is not a weapons race, but a peace treaty among interdependent nations.

You and I may never have evolved if it weren’t for relaxed selection. Humans have created a unique global niche where we are largely shielded from selective forces: Agriculture staves off starvation, medicine protects us from disease, cultural norms promote group harmony. Our evolution has been profoundly influenced by our selection-buffering behaviors. For instance, the appearance of some modern human features appears to be correlated with a rise in energy consumption, linked to the introduction of meat in our diet. Our ancestor Homo erectus began eating significantly more meat than its predecessors, yet its jaws and teeth were made for crushing tough plant matter and ill-adapted for chewing flesh. This species, it seems, was using tools not only to hunt but also to process meat (and, possibly, using fire to cook it). Energy-rich meat relaxed selection on our metabolism and digestive system—we could devote tenfold less time to chewing vegetation—which paved the way for our modern physiology. Our teeth, jaws, and guts shrank, allowing more energy to be allocated to our swelling brains, which necessitated a protracted, calorie-rich childhood to fully develop. Armed with crude but effective hand axes, Homo erectus shifted its evolutionary destiny. In humans and other animals that learn socially, selection buffering is especially powerful: Adaptive habits, like huddling for warmth and using tools to prepare food, can sweep through a population much faster than genomic changes.

How to Eat Fish and Still Save the Earth, Mark Bittman:

Without question, fish is the most nutritious animal we can eat, and by far the most varied in flavor and texture. But once you know that humankind has decimated the wild population, you don’t have to be a Greenpeace raft captain to feel conflicted about consuming it. Do we really want to be the generation so obsessed with gastronomic pleasure that we exterminate the Pacific? We can do better—not only for the future of our oceans but for the future of our appetites. There really are plenty of other fish in the sea: sustainable fish, regret-free fish, delicious and abundant fish that in some cases are such invasive species, it’s actually virtuous to murder them. With just a few modest substitutions, you can do your part for the planet while still eating like a king.

The True Cost of Seafood, John Bil:

One of the most popular seafood items in North America is shrimp. It is also one of the most fraught industries in the world.

Journalists at the Associated Press, among others, have been highlighting some of the terrible environmental and human costs of the global shrimp industry. It’s worth exploring if you’re so inclined.

But, for me, as a retailer/importer, I need to make sense of shrimp in a way that lets me sleep at night, lets you have a reasonable choice and supports good fisheries. Shrimp can be farmed or harvested wild, and each has its merits.