Saturday, February 23, 2008
While we have been known to enjoy a wide variety of cheeses, this is one that neither of us has had the necessity to experience...yet. That big brick of USDA American cheese is an unpleasant reminder that the "Trickle Down Theory" of economics didn't really trickle down far enough in practice.
Flash forward to today and our current economic dilemma. The collapse of the sub-prime market. Recession. Exploding gas prices. The disaster that is our health care "system". With the presidential election nipping at our heels, the current administration has decided that the best way to handle these financial dire straights is to hand taxpayers a $600.00 check with the hope that we will spend every last cent of it and jolt the economy. Will it help? Or will our collective belts tighten even more once our $600.00 is gone?
The business of food in America seems to me to be entering a golden age. Drawing away from overly processed, chemically laden foods. Understanding the necessities of locally grown and harvested produce. Chefs and restaurateurs have enjoyed riding the wave of love that our Foodie Nation bestows on those who serve fine cuisine. Foodies write blogs, they watch and discuss in detail the various food based television shows. They pore over the many food porn magazines our publishing industry produces. The question is, will our current economic woes throw a monkey wrench into the massive food industry machine?
What can we expect in the upcoming year? Will Tom Colicchio's juggernaut of Craft restaurants continue to expand or will his over priced food force a scale back of under performing partners? Will Martha Stewart regret buying Emeril Lagasse lock, stock and fry pan once she realizes that middle America can do just fine with some no name gadget over the same thing with Emeril's (or her) name slapped on it? Could a severe American recession trigger a world wide recession leading to unexpected environmental benefits? Might a Japanese recession save the Blue Fin tuna? Will American cattlemen move away from massive corn and grain feed lots that depend upon on chemicals and antibiotics and revisit grazing as corn prices sky rocket to supply our new ethanol needs?
Action/Reaction. How you spend your hard earned dollars makes a difference. Join a farm subscription or community supported agriculture, shop at the local farmer's market. Grow a garden. Buy your meat directly from the producer and know how your meat was raised. (Buying half a side of beef not only locks in the price you pay, but will keep you from consuming poorly processed meats.) Buying directly from the person raising the beef puts more money in their pockets and less in those of the massive processors. Make meals at home for the whole family. Re-instituting the family dynamic of leftovers can have unexpected benefits as a family learns to bond if only in revolt over consuming yet more tuna casserole. It's the stuff family legends are made of.
Times are tough and could get tougher. Make the smart choices, or you may find yourself chewing on a big, artificially colored, processed American government brick.