I’m not sure when it became reasonable for utter ignoramuses to pontificate about subjects that are normally reserved for experts. And I have no particular affinity for “experts.” I am not impressed by the pedigrees of most “experts,” and I am more than willing to point at them and laugh like a hyena. In fact, I enjoy doing that. What I mean by the word “expert” is someone who has a reasonable foundation in the facts necessary to understand a topic and who has spent some non-trivial amount of time thinking about those facts and how they mesh with the popular and unpopular explanations for those facts.
So when people like Alice Waters or Mark Bitten or the newest “super chef” babble new-age platitudes about eating locally grown produce and only using organic olive oil and humanely harvested arugula, I tend to get irritated. It is effortless to follow the guidelines of the most politically correct, progressive, anti-capitalist pro-animal guru when you have lots of money and most of the purveyors of these goods are more than willing to give them to you just so they can crow about how they are a part of your delusional world. But it is an altogether different thing when you have to consider the trade-off between eating in a sustainable, zero carbon footprint way (SAVE THE BROCCOLI!) and paying your mortgage or heating bill.
It is very easy to criticize corporate farming, and if you feel like reading, I’ll cheerfully rant and rave about the inequities of our current farm subsidy policy. And don’t get me started on the ridiculous way our Government has mandated how foods are defined. Let’s face it: Organic? Natural? Farm-raised? Free-range? Hormone-free? (And about 50 others.) What the hell is the difference?
Sorry, back to my point. We are extraordinarily lucky in this country that our food and transportation industries are incredibly efficient. If one cares to, or has to, one can eat healthy for very little money. Does that mean that you get first-press olive oil and night-harvested organic arugula? Nope. But you will get clean, fresh food that is available with just a bit of effort.
The problem is not the availability of good-quality ingredients; the problem is the other stuff that many Americans eat instead of a healthy diet. But Capitalism has created this cornucopia; it is up to the individual to take advantage of it. And if many Americans don’t want to cook good stuff for themselves and their families and would rather buy packaged food or eat fast-food? You can’t have one without the option of the other.