Monday, May 05, 2008

Politics on the Plate

Originally uploaded by momma a
Food matters. The rapid rise in the number of cooking programmes on television is quite amazing. Superstars like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart and Gordon Ramsay are turning into millionaires with programmes, cookbooks, endorsements of kitchenware and lecturing tours. With Oliver leading the way, the celebrity chefs are also raising awareness on free range chicken farming and the awful state of school lunches. Even in Finland the celebrity chef Jyrki Sukula left a while back the restaurant business to go and develop better fastfood. The latest issues of magazines like Good and Vanity Fair write huge articles on organic beef and on the dangers of genetically modified vegetables.

In the other end of the scale food is bringing another difficulty into the battle on climate change. Due to the rising price of rice, the World Food Programme has been calling governments for weeks to increase their funding in order to avoid millions of people starving to death. Even the British government - until now the Indiana Jones of climate change policy in the developed world - is thinking of scaling down its emission targets in order to stop the rise in food price for the world´s poorest. It does not take a Gandalf to figure out how this will play out - it is feminism and anti-immigration politicians or the world´s poorest and the big polluters.

Food divides us in a radical manner. In most countries healthy food is expensive or it would take hours to prepare for those who are already working the double shift. It´s the rucola-longing bobos against the ones not even having a cup of rice per day.

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