If you are fairly new to the world of food blogs, you may not have yet discovered the extraordinary writing and recipes over at Barbara Fisher’s Tigers & Strawberries. Self-proclaimed “West Virginia hillbilly” Barbara,
grew up in my grandmothers’ kitchens, where I banged wooden spoons into pots and pans, emulating the activity around me. When I wasn’t in the kitchens, I was out in the gardens, pattering barefoot down rows of red clay soil, planting seeds, pulling weeds and eating ripe tomatoes off the vine. On the farm, I gathered eggs and learned how to dress out hogs, steer and chickens and how to harvest and preserve the fruits of summer. With a childhood like that, it’s no wonder I became obsessed with food.
In addition to tempting us with recipes from cuisines around the world, Barbara writes insightful and thought-provoking essays on food and cooking in our society. Her post, Meat Comes from Animals: Deal with It, or Eat Vegetables speaks to how separated we’ve become from the whole process of how food gets from its source to our table:
The answer I often get from people who say, “I don’t like to eat meat that looks like it comes from an animal,” when I retort, “So don’t eat meat,” is the following sentence, usually stated in a plaintive wail:
“But I like the way meat tastes.”
This always works my very last nerve.
Why are people like this? Why do people insist on eating meat, but complain if it looks like it came from the carcass of an animal–which, even if it is minced and turned into sausage or trimmed into boneless cutlets, or cooked, shredded, ground and pressed into the shape of cartoon characters, is whence all meat comes? Why is it so hard to wrap one’s head around the fact that meat is the product of slaughtering an animal for the purpose of human consumption?
More recently, Barbara wrote about her observation of houses with fancy, expensive kitchens where people don’t cook, in Our Kitchens, Our Selves:
Then, there were other clients. Clients who had gorgeous kitchens, absolutely lovely to look at, with gleaming matching sets of All-Clad copper-bottomed cookware hanging from the ceilings, every kind of appliance you could want, Sub Zeros with Wolf stoves and all the latest technology money could buy, but who had no spices in their cabinets that were not five years old, nor anything resembling staple items in their pantries–not even spaghetti nor even flour or sugar. I had to purchase every ingredient fresh for them.
When my father grew up in the 1930s, most people in America still lived on farms. Now, only a few percentage points of the population lives on a farm. Most of us suburban and urbanites have never seen an animal get butchered. We don’t know how to milk a cow. We barely know what produce is in season. We let Kraft and General Foods, or worse yet McDonald’s, decide what our kids get for lunch. When I read Barbara’s blog I’m relieved to see I’m not alone in being concerned with these troubling trends. Check it out.