A Hazy Shade of Winter

February 26, 2012

If you are one of the two regular readers of the Thornapple Blog, you may have noticed that the “Recent Posts” column on the left hand side of the page scrolls down through the last ten items that I’ve posted. If you are reading this particular post during the week of Feb. 26, 2012 (e.g. the week it was published), then the item on the bottom of the “Recent Posts” list is “That’s It for 2011”. That particular post was actually written on December 25, which last time I checked was Christmas Day. It was so perfunctory (the moo-ving link notwithstanding) that I’m not even going to embed a link to it in this week’s blog. The only reason I’m mentioning it is that this progress of past blogs down the “Recent Posts” list has become a weird way of marking time for me. In one sense, it will not really be “That’s It for 2011” until next week, when my last blog of 2011 slides into the oblivion of the Archives, (where if you really want to find that moo-ving link, you can still click on December 2011).

Of course, if you happen to be reading the last February blog for 2012 at some later time, all these references to the Recent Posts column on the left hand side of the page will be completely meaningless to you. The only thing I can be relatively sure about it is that if you happen to be reading this blog right now, you are right here with my train of thought (however muddled that might be) as opposed to ignoring it, forgetting it or remaining completely unaware of it. Funny how that goes.

Which brings me to this week’s song lyric:

Time, time, time…

See what’s become of me.

While I looked around

for my possibilities,

I was so hard to please

This was penned by Paul Simon as a relatively young man, well before he married Princess Leia or went off to Africa and popularized world-music, and long, long before his peculiar combination of ego and chutzpah started to curdle in the cauldron of advancing years.

Not that this has all that much to do with food, except that I’m struck enough by the perishing nature of the eating experience, not to mention the farming experience, to keep bringing this up, time and time (and time and time) again. I did a goofy version of it reflecting on what it feels like to sit on Grand River and drink coffee when all the MSU students are coming back for classes, and I got rather serious about it a couple of weeks later after seeing the Richard Serra exhibit in Bilbao. And here I am again, well into 2012 and only now waving goodbye to 2011. It’s kind of like that last burp from a cheese enchilada with extra onions—the one that shows up hours later and reminds you how good they tasted.

Food is time. Time passing, time that is what we are. A food ethic that denies this to push hard on getting the environmental impacts right, or even one that is so focused on fair trade and just wages is getting a bit ahead of itself. And when you get ahead of yourself, well, where are you?

Elsewhere, I suppose.

Sure, food security is about ensuring that everyone has access to the food they need to survive, but the time that hungry people spend eating, not to mention procuring and preparing, is what makes up their lives. That has to be quality time in any adequate food ethic. So next time I reference Guy Lombardo (like a did last October), give me a break.

It seems to be one thing that I just can’t allow to slide forever into the Archives.

Paul B. Thompson holds the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State Universit