We stayed overnight in Dodson, Montana in a charming Bed and Breakfast owned and managed by Sandra Calk. At breakfast we got a peep view into her fridge. There were fruit and vegetables, cheeses, juices, marmalade, honey pickles, condiments and everlasting tortillas. There were eggs and rhubarb from a neighbor but nothing else was from close by, the regular milk came from Texas, and the vanilla scented one from Idaho. Even most of the meat products did not come from Montana, despite the state having millions of cattle grazing its green rolling hills; Montana has more cows than people. Montana cattle are finished in huge feed lot operations in Colorado, Nebraska or Texas where they are fed on maize from the fertile Corn Belt of the United States.
This snapshot of Sandra’s fridge is a mirror of the global food and agriculture system. The example is in no way extreme. In most parts of the industrial and urbanized world, people hardly eat anything that comes from close by. Consumption has no direct link to local agriculture which is organized in the same way as modern assembly lines, with parts being delivered from all over the globe to be assembled as a Gorby’s pizza, a McDonald’s hamburger or a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Indonesian consumers munched a stunning 14 billion packages of instant wheat noodles in 2012.[i] What is strange about that? Indonesia produces no wheat at all – what has become a national dish is based on a raw material that is completely imported.[ii]
When anthropologists describe some preliterate society, the conditions of food production and its role in society usually forms a central part of the narrative. Taboos, gender roles, power, ownership are all linked to food.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…