Abat-faim, Guy Debord, 1985.
One knows that this term designated a “meal’s principal dish, which one served first to quiet down, to reduce the hunger of the dinner guests” (Larousse).
In their dictionary, Hatzfield and Darmesteter refer to the term as “antiquated.” But history is the infallible master of dictionaires. With the recent progress of technology, the totality of nourishment consumed by modern society is uniquely becoming hunger reduction. The extreme degradation of nourishment is a banality that, in the manner of other banalities, is generally tolerated with resignation: as a fatality, a ransom paid for progress that one knows can’t be stopped because one is overwhelemed by it everyday.
AFTER years of carving up tuna carcasses in my bathtub, catching cod in the dead of winter and cooking fish and chips for crowds of 50-plus I have come to be known among my friends as the fish guy.
Until recently I’ve enjoyed being the fish guy and my ability to correctly answer questions about fish has felt like a game of “Jeopardy” rigged for my benefit. How do you tell a flounder from a fluke? Easy, fluke have prominent teeth, flounder don’t. Should bluefish and striped bass be cooked differently? Definitely: broil the bluefish, bake the bass.
But lately being the fish guy has become complicated. With every new warning about a species being overfished into extinction, friends have started asking if they should eat fish at all. The Pew Oceans Commission report “America’s Living Oceans” first alerted the public to the desperate state of the seas in 2003 when it declared them to be “in crisis.” That year a study in the journal Nature reported that up to 90 percent of the stocks of the ocean’s major predators (Atlantic cod and bluefin tuna to name two) have been wiped out. In the next few weeks, Congress will debate what to do about the dire state of the nation’s fisheries when it takes up the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens fisheries management act.
The Oil We Eat: Following the food chain back to Iraq
by Richard Manning, Harper’s Magazine – February 2004
The Cuba Diet: What will you be eating when the revolution comes?
by Bill McKibben, Harper’s Magazine – April 2005.
“Cuba became an island. Not just a real island, surrounded by water, but something much rarer: an island outside the international economic system, a moon base whose supply ships had suddenly stopped coming.
People tried to improvise their ways around shortages.
But it’s hard to improvise food.
Cuba had learned to stop exporting sugar and instead started growing its own food again, growing it on small private farms and thousands of pocket-sized urban market gardens—and, lacking chemicals and fertilizers, much of that food became de facto organic. In so doing they have created what may be the world’s largest working model of a semi-sustainable agriculture, one that doesn’t rely nearly as heavily as the rest of the world does on oil, on chemicals, on shipping vast quantities of food back and forth.”