I’ve been working with small farms and food companies for ten years. When I started, I really did think the movement would become enormous and the people I loved and respected would get the praise they deserved. I thought food systems would get better and there would be more good jobs. I thought everything would change.
Instead, what I’ve seen is the proliferation of fake farm to table restaurants, tech companies that skim unbelievable amounts of money in exchange for enabling convenience provided by slave wage “share economy” employees, and personal brand obsessed health gurus spreading lies about everything so they can sell little jars of magic powder. Celebrity chefs are trying to save poor neighborhoods with fast food for rich people. There are witch hunts against scientists organized by people who profit off of fear and confusion.
The one glimmer of hope I have is what I think I might start calling Blue Collar Foodies. These are people who aren’t rich, don’t live in elite coastal cities, but love food and believe in American farming because it affirms their values. They want to raise healthy families. They want to explore the kind of street food they see on tv. They know some farmers from the market. They drive trucks. They support the Second Amendment not because they are scared Call of Duty cosplayers, but because they grew up hunting and aren’t afraid of a useful tool.
These people might have seen Forks Over Knives and like the idea of a mostly plant-based diet because they could stand to lose a few and don’t want diabetes, but aren’t going to say no to some homemade carnitas their friend’s mom makes.
I’m starting to see sparks of this on the edges, but I think people who believe in this shit need to start getting together. Support a couple restaurants that do it right, but pull your support away from bullshit businesses with better marketing than service. If they have a mission statement that doesn’t reflect their menu, fuck them. You don’t need the internet or a social media strategy of this. Get the fuck out there and do it for food, not likes. Likes are bullshit.
If you eat meat, get into buying directly from farms. Go in on a deep freezer and buy some meat from your hunting buddies. Have some beers or something when you meet up to pick up the week’s protein.
Cook with your whole family involved. Stop supporting grifter tech companies who have done nothing except invent a new way to place orders. It’s not more convenient, they’ve simply convinced you that the socially beneficial act of going out in the real world to get your food is inefficient. It’s not. Just cut down on tv and get the fuck out there.
You don’t need to be lectured about health from celebrity chefs who made a fortune off of inaccessible menus and now are trying to “give back.” Make your own veggie burgers. There is no fucking reason a company needs $180 million dollars to make a veggie burger. It’s bullshit. Meet farmers. Get cooking advice from your friends. Boycott people with personal brands based on scaring you away from things only to sell you “enhanced” versions of the shit they just scared you away from.
Start a food gang. This is a crew of people that you hunt and forage and cook with. Make a plan to meet up once a month for an epic meal. Get fucked up or don’t, just make it fun.
Think Mike Rowe meets Anthony Bourdain meets Sons of Anarchy. I think it has potential.