MenU; Once Gathered...

Ever since the days of fruits and seeds collection and The Hunt, food has been a community 'thang'. The food itself tended to be more readily harvested by virtue of the "many hands" theory which has pervaded our history. Partly because there was no form of food preservation in the earliest days, it was necessary to consume what was gathered, hence a gathering together of all who needed to be fed.

Once gathered, it would not have taken long for a social etiquette to have developed; we are no less animals than any other in this respect. The dominant male would always been served first and obtained the choicest foods. Naturally, as the centuries passed, obtaining food became easier, skills arose as to the production and storing of it. Etiquette may have become more refined, but the 'eating order' would not change. Somewhere along the way, also, regional differences would have begun to emerge. The basic hunt-gather which marked the entirety of the human species would become more and more specialised according to many factors, but essentially directed by the likes of climate, soil, availability and population numbers.

Complexity would enter our approach to food and all things associated. It wouldn't simply be about the survival of the fittest, but putting effort into care and support for the less able, finding a place and purpose for them...albeit much less than what we think of in the 21st century.

With that complexity, with the development of intellectual activity, grew up many pursuits which would have seemed as mysterious and amazing to the hunter-gatherers as our technology now would to the bronze-agers. Refinements on clothing, ornamentations, formalisations of language and so much more. These things also were many and varied according to time, region and facility.  All due to food, the need to obtain it and the requirement to share it.

One of the main things which binds people across the many cultural differences which did arrive is the very food which brought such variations about. There is hardly a culture anywhere on the globe which does not have as one of its basic tenets of hospitality that travellers/visitors ought to be offered, at the very least, fresh water and some bread. Go to a home in the far East and there will be rice + 'something' put before you in no time at all. In the sub-continent, dahl roti (lentils and bread) is the basic dish and always to hand. In many African countries, corn-meal is the staple and will be offered in some form or other; whilst in Northern climes, it would certainly be some form of soup and whatever the favoured local bread might be - rye, sourdough....

In Scotland (or elsewhere in UK/Eire), try and get away without having consumed a filling of tea and scones or other such bakery good!  This tradition carried itself with the diaspora of the Victorian age to Canada, USA, Australia, NZ and a few other places also.

All good, from that perspective.  There can be a 'dark' side to food etiquette though! If you have ever been subject to the food bully, you will understand the point. Who or what is the food bully? The person/persons/culture which DEMANDS you eat and that you eat stuff you truly abhor or to which you have philosophical objections. This can happen within families, even if the general culture does not necessarily dictate it.  There are more than a few families, I suspect, where the "you eat that or else...." has been experienced.  I am not talking the basic training of appreciating what is put in front of one by a hard-worked mother having to be thrifty. Rather, the situations and places where food is used as a weapon, a form of control over others. I have had Yiddish friends over the years who openly confess this! One lady in particular decried the family tendency for creating guilt around food - and the moment of her realising how she was herself perpetuating the habit is forever etched in memory.  Let's just say it was expressive.

There are Greek, Italian and Indian mothers I have had to deal with over the years who have, partly due to it being the only avenue of control they felt they had, used food like a nuclear weapon.

Conversely, food prepared with fullness of heart and spirit and shared without expectation can bring solace and true healing - even if it defies all the laws of nutrition. Very early in some cultures, specifically Eastern, it began to be recognised that food acted as a medicine upon the body and was not merely a fuel, giving rise to 'you are what you eat' philosophies. Western traditions would arrive at this conclusion also, but at a much later date in evolution.

Are we free of all the complexities which arise from food? Clearly not! The nature of the food, its quality and all which is associated with it, remain contentious, which is what began all this ranting from the YAMster!

Certainly it has become more diverse as we have become more of a Global Community. One of the great shifts, of course, was that where farmers were no longer producing for themselves and their immediate locale, but for a wider region, first within country, then between countries. As transportation and preservation methods became available, so it was that governments and economies started to take on 'nanny' roles. The 'food bully' has become the grocery megamarts who more or less dictate what our diet is to be. The idea has been marketed since the 1960s that 'because you are busy we have found a way to save you time' and BOOM... readymeals abound. Fast food arrived and no matter in what form, we have fallen foul of eating less and less food which is truly home prepared. (Remember, the generic 'we' is being used here - society as a whole!)

Definitely each community ought to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves. However, of great concern, I feel, is the tendency to think that if we can't open our refrigerators or cupboards and find at least three choices of item to satisfy our boredom  and that too within five minutes, then somehow we are at risk of 'starvation'.

The 'West'  has absolutely no concept of starvation. Intellectually, yes. Experientially, no. There are a few remaining survivors of various conflicts who can tell of that genuine experience. However, since the second World War, whilst there may have been periods of hunger, starvation is not the issue of the West. There is much talk of 'foodbanks' in various places. That there are segments of society who for one reason or other cannot afford general groceries, is not about lack of food availability, but about economic mismanagement (at any and all levels). The over-production of grains and meats in the West is not solving the genuine global lack. In countries where there is genuine threat of starvation, the Biggie Producers, driven by the new Food Bully, are using soils and labour for production of fruits and veges to fill the megamart shelves; the worse of that is that these items are subject to measurements such as, for example, straightness and length of a green been, or the curve of a cucumber and anything which does not measure up is wasted.... not offered to the country of production, note...

...and that is one of the greatest social crimes. The amount of food wastage at production end as well as at consumption level.  I know I risk 'toe stepping' here, but it bothers me greatly that so many folk will stock up their home shelves so as 'to have enough', but that 'enough' either goes out of date or goes rotten or in one way or another adds to the giant waste heap.

Enough, apparently, is never...





This applies to our appetite for 'variety' also. It has fed the out-of-season consumption of all fruits and veges. Okay, so somewhere in the world, 'the season' is always there - this in turn leads to long-distance transport, which requires artificial harvesting and ripening. All of this boils down to the whole sustainable production thing and on doing background research for this week's post another of those 'I was here waiting for you' items appeared before me...

Let me introduce you THE SUSTAINABLE FOOD TRUST (it is UK-based but has a USA subsidiary). Love love love this site!!! It is very balanced, all the contributors have worthy credentials and it is not afraid to take a look from the Big Side either. I highly recommend this to those of you who have been sharing this journey along a nutritional by-way down which I seem to have wandered rather unwittingly but not at all unwillingly! Secondary to this site, as a result of checking out a few of the 'bios' of the writers,  for those of you who do like to take meat but care about its origin, I discovered also the ANIMAL WELFARE APPROVED site, which is purely USA-based and for my UK readers you can check out FREEDOM FOOD/RSPCA MONITORED for similar info. For the Aussies... the nearest equivalent I could find was the RSPCA Aust. SHOP HUMANE site but this other one called CHOOSE WISELY may also be of interest.

One final 'pipe' on the wider picture which has developed over the last couple of posts... the SFT site had
this article which directly addresses some of the issues discussed.  I leave it with you for perusal.

Next week, it's back to the individual scale of things!

On other matters - big congrats to the Blogville Barkers for winning their first ever soccer match! (Oh and just to clarify - I did no singing, mine was the half-time anthem over at Easy's place...)

Sorry I have been a bit 'scattered' in my comments at blogpals' places the past few days; having visitors shifts the focus a bit! It was a fun time though - and got some fresh photos after a month of nothing much, so watch out for some of those showing up...

..and don't forget our invitation to Blogville!
This link will appear daily, for the month of May.







17 comments:

  1. It is one of the things that drives me crazy here in the USA - the portion sizes are just way to much - one of the reasons I hate eating out as there is always way to much for me to eat and unfortunately due to tummy problems I can't eat reheated food. Even my hubby who has a good healthy appetite can never finish all they give him - I hate seeing such waste and knowing there are so many hungry people in the world

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    1. Hari OM
      ...funny thing is, when I emigrated to OZ, I found their portion sizes to be excessive compared to what I was used to! I do know, though, that by comparison to the US .....well nothing compares!

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  2. Food waste is fast becoming a big problem…fur the peeps, I never waste MY foodables!
    When Mum lived in Scotland she was treated to choice foodabes, bridies, white puddings, stovies to name a few and the best cream cake evers from the bakery across the road!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

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    1. Hari Om
      For those unfamiliar - Bridies are puff pastry parcels of very indistinct meat paste product chock full of onions; white puddings are like black puddings, but without the blood; stovies - yummmm - the tradition was to use up the leftover fat and meat scraps from the Sunday Roast by sauting potatoes and onions with them and some stock until it had become a mash like consistency. I now make stovies with vegetarian sausages and they are every bit as tasty! Yxx

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  3. We have never experienced a Food Bully OURSELVES... butt DO know that they exist and the reason(s) fur their actions..
    We hate to see foods go to waste.... We try to keep that from happening here on the hill.... and when our garden happens to produce more than we NEED.... we SHARE the bounty ....

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    1. Hari OM
      One of the great advantages of growing your own is that, with clever planting, you can 'step' the harvest too - and you are are great at bottling milkbones and stuffs.... I think anyone who produces their own automatically 'gets' the value of food!!! Yxx

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  4. Much ground covered in the post today (I hestitate to say "meaty subject matters")
    My mother once, after staying with me for a week and observing my careful preservation and subsequent consumption of left-overs, observed, approvingly I hope, "anyone would think you had been brought up in the War"!
    Cheers, Gail.

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    1. Hari OM
      Oh yes it was bones and all today - if a little 'ham fisted' &*<> hehehehe..... Oh don't get me started on the elder's refrigerator and freezer...and cupboards.... poor old dad is one to leave stuff 'fuustering' ............ trouble is I can't eat that stuff either, so waste there was. But I get what you are saying and it was certainly a compliment!!! Yxx

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  5. Food waste also is a huge environmental problem. Not only is it a waste when there are so many hungry people EVERYWHERE it is also bad for the planet.

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    1. Hari Om
      This is true. There is a move here and in OZ for councils to collect food scraps separately now and it goes to animal feed... one small step...

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  6. One side heaps of food waste and another side hungry hands in search of a morsel of food. What a contradiction in man.

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    1. Hari Om
      Sarala - you say correctly!...it has ever been thus and one wonders if it can ever be any different...

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  7. My grampy once said, it's a sin to waste food... he was a farmer and he gave up as they started to plow under fruits and corn, just because the prices were down...and I always try to make something from "leftovers" instead to throw it away ...
    easy rider

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  8. Wow, I cannot wrap my poochie brain around wasting foodables! Holy cow, we'll eat 'em. BOL

    BTW: Have you heard from Mara? I sent her an email with 6 photos of Brom and Miss Oswin for the Welcome Dance and haven't gotten a response. Sent them back on Monday the 18th. I surely hope she received them and all is okay. She will also need to be sure she is Following me and the BCCalendar and FnE so she's eligible for all of the cool prize pressies. Do you happen to know if she received my email of photos? Thanks bunches again for your help with recruiting!

    Grr and Woof,
    Sarge, Event Host

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  9. Mara just checked in with me and she is okey dokey! She got her photos and she's all set. Thanks bunches! You're a pawesome furiend. :)

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  10. I have issues with my fridge, and find myself throwing out veggies. That said, I don't mind that, sine the local farmer was paid, this encourages them to grow and have sustainability.
    My parents, as many who lived through the war, were frugal, and we don't waste anything much. I used to take leftovers for lunches, when teaching!
    Great post, good points!

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  11. I must admit I have just thrown out milk. It was dated to May 6th, which I felt was a bit over. And yes, I do throw out other stuff as well. I have become a bit more careful ever since I once ate yoghurt with mould in it. My grandfather however was of another ilk altogether. He would scrape off the mould from bread and then eat the remainder.

    I learnt through the years to say no to things I don't like. I was once served with cooked boiled cauliflower in vinegar. My hostess had made great things throughout the week, but that was too far for me. I think she took it in good form. Especially when I wanted to know how to make tortellini the next day and took notes and photos of the whole process. And yes, I have made those!!

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