Elite food?

May 2011

Scotland food
Photo from Flickr
GM-free Scotland could face the same genre of accusations as those aimed at Eric Schlosser (1), Robby Kenner (3) and Michael Pollan (2). All three have been described as 'self-appointed food elitists' (a.k.a. 'food fascists'), and 'hell-bent on misleading consumers'.

We plead guilty to the first charge. Scottish food is among the best, purest and most natural in the world. That's because Scotland has resisted pressure from international forces to join America on the slippery slope its leaders have chosen. America's model food system is not one to be emulated: it is over-centralized, over-industrialised, over-controlled by a handful of companies, over-reliant on monocultures, on pesticides, on chemicals fertilizers, on chemical additives, on factory farms, on government subsidies, on machines and on fossil fuels, with GMOs shoring up all of it. If avoiding standardised, nutrient-depleted, aged, GM food is 'elitist' then we should all be proud to be called so.

But, misleading consumers? Definitely not.

Consumers are paying for non-elite food with their health. The survival of the current global food system depends upon consumer ignorance. Once people know what they're actually eating, and know what non-elite food is doing to their bodies, and realise there are alternatives, they will no longer buy it. As Schlosser says:
“The cheapness of today's industrial food is an illusion, and the real cost is too high to pay.”
The links between the agricultural system, freshly prepared food, and health are too intimate to ignore.

However, there's another factor in this equation which shouldn't be left out.

Housing policy in developed countries has been based around the non-elite food supply system too. The 'economic' way to house people is to cram as many dwellings into as little land as is practically possible, and in the blink of an eye one of the big supermarkets will appear somewhere near. Since there's no where else to shop and no green space to call your own, the people become cogs in the wheels of the global food supply system.

To paraphrase one broad-sighted American architect, housing development, agriculture and health are broken, and the answer to each lies in the other. He is referring to recent proposals for the development of 'agriburbia' communities in America which will combine dwellings with land for farming so that everyone can contribute, in their own way, to their own food production.


In Britain, we have allotments, gardens, window-boxes, patio-gardens, garden-sharing schemes and city gardens, farm co-operatives, farmers' markets, box-schemes and many more ways in which you can contribute to local food production in your own way. These are sources of very earthy elite, GM-free food. Look out for what's available in your area

Also, if you haven't done so yet, get hold of
(1) Eric Schlosser's book 'Fast Food Nation'
(2) Michael Pollan's book 'In Defense of Food'
(3) Robby Kenner's film 'Food, Inc.'

  • Eric Schlosser, Why being a foodie isn't 'elitist', Washington Post, 29.04.11
  • Keith Goetzman, Some Developers are Starting to Incorporate a New feature into Neighborhoods A Food Supply,, 25.04.11

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