"It will be a great day for America, incidentally, when we begin to eat bread again, instead of the blasphemous and tasteless foam rubber that we have substituted for it."A James Baldwin book wasn't a place I expected to find a quote about the U.S.'s wrecked food systems, but there it is, right in the middle of race and religion and violence and sex. Baldwin, of course, was also referring to our wider lack of basic sustenance, beyond food, specifically in Harlem in the Fifties and Sixties. Harlem still has a shortage of nutritious food.
—James Baldwin in The Fire Next Time, 1962
It is interesting for me to think about how long we've been losing our connection to real food. On some podcast I listened to lately, Michael Pollan was talking about the commercialization of prepared food in the Fifties. When cake mix was first marketed, it didn't go over well because people felt that just adding water was cheating. Cake mixes continued to be sold, of course, but producers backed up a step, and made it so that a cook has to break an egg to use the mix, and therefore feel like they're doing some food preparation. Now that's better! We've made an effort!
I also heard about a diet recently where the guidelines were simple: eat [and drink] nothing out of a box, bottle, or package. Prepare your own food and drink.