I’m intrigued by the growing “local foods” movement and direct marketing of just about anything farm-fledged. Local is good. Farm-raised is good. Direct marketing is good (cut out that nasty middleman). And the market is booming for organics and grass-fed and pastured and sustainable anything. I applaud that.
But a phrase cropped up in a trade publication recently that curbed my appetite: holistic pizza.
That’s like putting the magic “from Amish country” tagline on a label when the closest the producer comes to Old Order religion is passing the buggy on the road.
Holistic pizza. I’m supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy from chewing on that pepperoni?
But then I read that the movement is not “topping-centric,” but all about the crust, sauce and cheeses. (That’s my problem: All along I’ve been topping-centric! What was I thinking?)
How can pizza be “holistic?” And what does that even mean, anyway?
Holistic ecology “views man and the environment as a single system”, says Merriam-Webster. I’ll buy that. Every action has a consequence, intended or unintended. What you do on your farm can impact downstream, downwind, downtown.
But what’s that got to do with my large extra cheese?
Politics of food. It’s the politics of food and food production. It’s a personal philosophy. You can support whatever food system you want with your food votes, as Berkeley journalism professor Michael Pollan writes in his new book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
Don’t get me wrong. We are seeing a profitable farm shift from ‘commodity’ production to producers of ‘food’, and that quality is an important part of a farming enterprise. “Farming for health is the future of agriculture,” observes Ross Welch, a USDA plant physiologist.
But if you want to know how really warped we’ve become, an Internet search for “holistic food” turns up more hits for holistic dog and cat food than people food. I don’t even want to go there.
Hierarchy of needs. All my food-inhaling, milk-chugging, up-from-the-dinner-table-and-straight-to-the-fridg 15-year-old worries about is why it takes so long for the frozen cardboard pizza to bake.
And I have to admit sometimes I’m right there with him. Love good food. Appreciate quality ingredients. Don’t have time to cook/bake/prepare or even think about what to cook/bake/prepare. It was 11 p.m. Sunday night when I pulled that half of ham out of the oven for the week’s meals. I don’t know what else we’ll eat, but at least we’ll have ham to gnaw.
Here are my three food wishes: Everyone has enough to eat; everyone knows food comes from a farm and knows at least one real farmer; and everyone realizes ‘you are what you eat’.”
So the ham I’ll eat for dinner tonight is very holistic (I can tell you the name of the pig and that it was raised humanely in our pig palace), but I don’t know who raised the beef I browned last night.
Maybe holistic pizza is a red state/blue state kind of thing. Or maybe some people just need to get a life. One rooted in the real world.
(Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)