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IPA : say no to slow food « Previous | |Next »
June 12, 2011

The Institute of Public Affairs can be a puzzling lot at times.The rationale of the think tank is a defence of capitalism and free market capitalism along the classic liberal lines individual freedom, small government and deregulated markets. In keeping an eye out for the threats to freedom they have ended up becoming climate change sceptics and deniers and an opposition to human rights over and above the right to own and acquire property.

Today, in an article in The Sunday Age we find Chris Berg defending industrial capitalism by attacking the slow food movement as nostalgia (Culinary Luddism) and celebrating processed industrial food.

thins.jpg Gary Sauer-Thompson, junk food, 2011

Berg, in referencing Rachelle Audan's defence of fast, processed food, reduces slow food to natural food. He then says that in an industrial society food been cheap, plentiful and safe.

For the most part, when it comes to food and agriculture, industrial is good. Corporate farming is good. Even processed is good. Natural food is an illusion. We wouldn't want it if we had it. Our ancestors had natural food. It was awful.
Consequently, for Berg, the nostalgia for a lost world of pure food is nostalgia for a world of nutritional poverty and he implies that those who are part of the slow food movement think any sort of processing of food is inherently bad. He ends his article by turning this backlash against the slow food movement into an argument in favour of agri-business (the industrialized food system) as opposed to the family farm.

Berg's slight of hand is that he runs together the industrial processing of canning tomatoes or making yogurt or cheese with processed food that is considered unhealthy , such as refined sugars, white flours, and store-bought foods that contain 20+ ingredients, such as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, potassium sorbate, BHT.

Berg's sleight of hand enables him to ignore the inferior quality with extra additives in industrial food--eg., pink slime in the fast food industry. He skims over the quality of food: namely, that high-quality industrial foods is expensive, and that food history shows the cheapest food is the crap industrial food, processed to the point of zero or even negative nutritive value.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:08 AM | | Comments (7)


Berg just follows Rachel Lauden who says that:

I cannot accept the account of the past implied by this movement: the sunny, rural days of yore contrasted with the gray industrial present. It gains credence not from scholarship but from evocative dichotomies: fresh and natural versus processed and preserved; local versus global; slow versus fast; artisanal and traditional versus urban and industrial; healthful versus contaminated. History shows, I believe, that the Luddites have things back to front.

The sunlit past of the culinary Luddites never existed. So their ethos is based not on history but on a fairy tale.

This a straw woman argument since rejecting low quality semi-food products in crinkly packages doesn't equate to a rejection of industrial modernity and nostalgia for sunny meadows and happy peasants.

Culinary Luddism?

How does knowing the farmer who grew my food, or buying my fruit and vegetables from the farmers market, necessarily keep some poor worker chained in miserable pre industrial conditions?

Luddism is an opposition to industrialization and technology. Where the original Luddites had an irrational fear of free trade and technological advancement, the new “culinary Luddites” have an irrational fear of processed and preserved foods.

Berg's processed foods v organic foods misses all the practices inbetween, such as buying my fruit and vegetables from the farmers market as opposed to Woolworths. Laudan admits that she tends to choose natural, fresh food over processed.

The Slow Food's officially-stated philosophy is that they believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.

The IPA are some times bad, but usually worse. So now someone who doesn't embrace junk food or yank macs is commo, eh?
No cholesterol- that must be "UnAmerican/Australian".
Come on children, get with the program and occlude for your country!

I've never quite been able work out whether Chris Berg is a fool or deeply dishonest. I suppose they aren't mutually exclusive, so he could be both.

I love how these propaganda mills have copied their US counterparts and pretended they are some kind of academic institutions. Berg (of whom I have never heard until today) is called a 'research fellow'. Hur hur hur. His online presence is singularly devoid of any mention of his research credentials ... and indeed of any research he might claim to have done.

Seriously Gary, stop giving these clowns oxygen. Link to other quality online writers instead of these frequent posts about what some wanker like Berg has written. Who cares? Can't we develop a constructive online discussion with like minds in lieu of an endless exercise in pointing to the flaws in the MSM ... which hardly anyone bothers to read these days anyway?

point taken Ken. However, the issue of healthy food is an important one.

Gary,These two essays by Wendell Berry sum up the situation quite well. They were both written in response to September 11.

Orion Magazine is of course conservative in the REAL sense of the word.