About six years ago “farm to table” was going to save us all from a radioactive dustbowl wasteland full of bee killing GMO high fructose corn syrup enemas. Now it’s a sign your neighborhood is being gentrified. The same people who were fapping off about their backyard chickens are now bitching about $6 toast.
For a minute people were down with meeting their farmer at the market. Now they’re happy to read about him on the food ordering app they use so they don’t have to leave their “filing cabinet for widows and young professionals.”
What no one ever considers when they write their stupid articles about gentrification is that high prices for goods are usually the result of someone being paid a decent wage to make something cool. It baffles me that the same kind of people who are cheering for a $15 minimum wage are also bitching about craft cocktails and fancy coffee. You can’t have it both ways.
Personally, I don’t eat much fancy ass food, but I do appreciate it. Other than freakishly expensive bottles of alcohol and steaks made from torturing cattle (AKA Kobe), most people in America can afford the occasional splurge on something truly fine. Even a worthless marketing intern can save up for a night at the French Laundry. It’s not the sort of thing you could do every day, but you could experience it.
Think about it this way, you can probably at least put a meal at the finest restaurant in California on your credit card (don’t!), but you couldn’t even come close to buying the finest motorcycle in California unless you’re a dude with a huge chin and a denim uniform.
Food, even at it’s most pretentious, is still relatively accessible to the masses. Don’t like an establishment’s prices? Who gives a fuck what you think? If the prices don’t work, the free market will let the owners know. No need to involve subpar journalism or political grandstanding.
To make food that’s sustainable, delicious, and innovative requires skilled labor. Skilled labor costs money. Skilled labor is not subsidized by the government. That’s unskilled labor you’re thinking of.
Last weekend I drove up to Green Valley to visit a friend’s ranch. He’s planning to build up a robust food hub in the area with a restaurant, processing facility, and a few connected farms and ranches running cattle, pork, and chicken. The land is beautiful and I imagine the operation will be successful.
We talked about everything from Merle Haggard’s passing to motorcycle thieves. The thing we kept hitting on is what it means to be useful. To successfully work on the kind of ranch he’s putting together you need a bunch of skills that are uncommon individually, but extremely rare to find packaged together. A good modern agriculturist should know how to farm, work on machines, have veterinary knowledge, drive just about anything, have some marketing savvy (for farmers markets), have basic accounting skills, understand weather, and a whole mess of random shit including having good physical strength.
I remember reading in Hells Angels President Sonny Barger’s book, Hell’s Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club, that cowboys were the one group his crew were always wary to fight. He admired their raw strength and toughness. If I recall he said something like, “how are you going to knock a man out who can take a kick from a horse?”
The crazy thing is, farmers don’t make dick for pay. It’s insane that people of such high competency can be so undervalued. Our society’s biggest problem right now is we are not making useful people anymore and we aren’t rewarding the few that are left.
Anyone who’s halfway smart is currently engaged in making bullshit food delivery apps. And they’re doing it badly. Domino’s Pizza used to be able to get a pizza to your house in under 30 minutes using a phone. The shitty Silicon Valley crew might be able to get a half warm taco to your house in under an hour, unless it’s a peak time. Then you’re fucked. Yay for disruption!