Wok the Wok

February 24, 2013

Yesterday was the third annual installment in a local food confab called “Everybody Eats!” It’s been characterized as a bunch of guilt-laden white gardeners futilely reaching out to black, Latino and other marginalized groups in the hope of requiting the charge that the food movement is elitist. (Hey! How’s that for a convoluted thought!) I won’t say who has characterized it thus, because that would be telling. There are more than a few guilt-laden white gardeners who would sheepishly admit to some truth in the charge, however. It was refreshing to hear Marilyn Barber from the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network express frustration when her group’s efforts are criticized for failing to reach out to whites. I got the sense that almost everybody is ready to reach out to almost anybody else. On the other hand, there’s plenty of work to do, and sometimes it is better to just pick up a shovel and do something wherever you happen to find yourself.

Although I missed last year’s meeting, I will say straight out that I had a marvelous time wandering around the halls of Trinity Church for this year’s affair. Like any self-respecting alternative foods event, it was a spectacular blend of the practical and the outright wacky. Maybe not quite as wacky as you would see out on the West Coast, mind you. We Mid-Westerners are un-remitting in our practicality, and I did not see even one person wearing a pyramid yesterday. Even if we suspect that they are out there making us ill by spraying nanoparticles of aluminum oxide into the atmosphere so that they can continue to sell us copious quantities of genetically-engineered pharmaceutical products, we’re not going to come out and say it publicly. Even if we’ve achieved personal salvation after adopting a vegan diet, we’ll take a just a taste of our neighbor’s homemade deer jerky in order to be polite. And even if we think local food activism is totally consistent with Ayn Rand’s version of minarchism, we’ll nod our heads graciously while someone explains how we can get a Federal grant to support hydroponic production of pigeon peas in our unfinished Michigan basements.

I tread on thin ice, here, I realize. My gentle sarcasm could easily give offense where something quite the opposite is what I would have intended. So maybe it’s better to pull a typical Thornapple blog stunt, eschew obfuscation and just quote a song lyric, this one from Tom Waits:

Paper’s full of stabbings, the sky’s full of crows
She’s singing in Italian while she’s hanging out her clothes
Carp in the bathtub and it’s raining real hard
I ain’t allowed in Buzz Fledderjohn’s yard

Or, as one of the (unapproved) robot commentators to the Thornapple Blog wrote last week: Today Headline:”His Excellency the King Cuong V Truong created a character name Actor Tom Truong for his upcoming real life scary movie Jesus Christ reborn: The Second Coming of Christ. It’s a real life movie about the son of God using Knights created by fate to help 7+ Billion slaves fight the devil worshipers cult illuminati aka (the Bilderberg Group).”

Or yet again, to quote a Russian robot who also found her way to the Thornapple site: здесь на официальном магазине вы сумеете увидеть огромный ассортимент

Or as any random blogger could write, “Welcome to my world.” No in fact, Everybody Eats! is pretty open, but pretty tame in comparison. It may be just a bunch of us guilt-ridden locals who are well practiced at tocking the tock, now trying to move on to the next phase. And maybe, just maybe, we will. As Tom Waits also sang:

You can never hold back spring
You can be sure I will never stop believing
The blushing rose, it will climb
Spring ahead or fall behind
Winter dreams the same dream, every time

Baby you can never hold back spring
Even though you’ve lost your way
The world is dreaming, dreaming of spring

Nevertheless, you’ll excuse me if I fail to open the blog for comments this week.

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

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