“Even as traditional environmentalism struggles, another movement is rising in its place, aligning consumers, producers, the media and even politicians,” Bryan Walsh writes on Time.com today. “It's the food movement, and if it continues to grow it may be able to create just the sort of political and social transformation that environmentalists have failed to achieve in recent years. That would mean not only changing the way Americans eat and the way they farm — away from industrialized, cheap calories and toward more organic, small-scale production, with plenty of fruits and vegetables — but also altering the way we work and relate to one another. To its most ardent adherents, the food movement isn't just about reform — it's about revolution.”
Walsh points out that the “food movement” (actually a series of organized smaller movements) has quickly become a measureable force in American society, with thousands of community-supported agriculture programs around the country, more than 6,000 farmers' markets and increased sales of organic food and beverages. Celebrity chefs such as Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, have made local sourcing the norm, and First Lady Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity her signature issue. Why this surge in interest? “Simple: it's about pleasure,” Walsh writes. “Before the political games, before worries about dead zones and manure lagoons, before concerns about obesity and trans fat, the food movement arose around a simple principle: food should taste better.”
Martha Stewart, in an article on Huffington Post last week, agrees. “I have a noticed a shift in the role that food plays in our lives and in our culture,” she writes. “Food has become more than one of life's great pleasures. It has become a signifier of style, too. The notion that ‘you are what you eat’ extends beyond the virtues of a nutritious, well-balanced diet. These days, it often seems that you are what you purchase in the supermarket or at the farmer's market; your grocery list is a reflection of your values and your identity. Chefs are as celebrated as designers (move over, Armani, here's Batali!) and eating and entertaining have become haute couture: Food is the new fashion.”
Stewart lauds statistics showing that cookbook sales have risen 5 percent in a time of declining overall book sales and is heartened by the general public’s growing interest in their meals’ origins. “What's in your pantry and on your plate have become a form of self-expression much like a fabulous pair of Christian Louboutins, or absolutely anything vintage,” she writes. “Just as the label 'fashionista' evokes an entire lifestyle, so, too, does the term 'foodie.' The terms are not mutually exclusive, of course.”
Grilled tofu: fashion or political statement--or both?