A couple of weeks ago, on the Carrot and Cardamom Cookies post, you all inspired me and really made me think with your insightful comments grappling with the issues of food elitism (and foodie elitism), what it means to be stranded in a food desert, how we can share our feelings about food without offending our families and friends, and what we can do to work towards solutions to the industrial food problem that is slowly killing our country.
And then two days ago, Elissa Altman, who is the founder and author of one of my very favorite blogs, Poor Man’s Feast, posted a follow-up to her earlier post about traveling through food deserts (which I had linked to in our original discussion). The comments on her food-desert post included this one: “Mmmmmmm. All this hand-wringing elitism is making me hungry. A bunch of affluent pricks (…) complaining about the dreadful state of travel food? Get real.”
Elissa’s response was powerfully direct and well written, so I’m sharing it in case you haven’t seen it. It’s one more great reminder that we all need to work on ending the real food elitism; that is, we all need to work to make sure that everyone – everyone – has access to fresh, wholesome, and truly healthy food. She wrote, in part (emphasis mine):
[R]eal food needs to be made available to everyone. It needs to be affordable. [T]he democratization — the availability — of real food is not meant for debate: this is an ethical, moral issue, plain and simple, with roots as ancient as loaves and fishes …. And we are never, ever going to move this conversation forward and find answers to this universal, politically blind problem unless we sit down together and stop throwing rocks.
But if you do have to go down the political road, so be it: don’t be so concerned about who I marry, or whether or not I pray (or to whom), or my right to a safe abortion, and then blithely look the other way while the only food I have access to is going to kill me, my family, my children – and yours. You don’t get to have it both ways.
And here is another link to her post. Definitely worth reading.
As we each work to occupy our own kitchens, I like to think we are also working to find ways to help everyone, even those without ‘elite’ food access, to occupy their kitchens as well.
In the spirit of helping everyone make dinner who can – here is a super quick, one-pot dinner recipe. If broccoli is now short-hand for the role of government in health care reform (really? yes - here is a front page New York Times article that includes a timeline showing how it happened) – and if a certain former president really hates it (and apparently prefers pork rinds?!) … well. I guess all I can do in that case, is serve more broccoli.
And assume he won’t be coming to dinner.
Lemony-Broccoli With Pasta
Broccoli heads are expensive, especially if you buy organic. I like this simple dinner partly because it uses lots of lemon and some butter, but especially because it uses every bit of the broccoli, in one easy pot to boot. Like with the super-bonus Vodka Mac & Greens, this is not an ‘ideal’ vegetable cooking method … so feel free to steam your broccoli separately if you must. But if it’s twenty minutes before dinner time and you have a pot of water handy, you can make this all at once and be done before your deadline.
1 large head of broccoli (stems and florets), rinsed and chopped into bite-size bits
1-2 cups whole-grain pasta of choice (to make four servings)
2 tablespoons butter (or, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil)
1 lemon, zest and juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
For serving: parmesan cheese, red chili flakes
(and a big glass of wine, or whatever, because it was probably a long day if you need a superfast dinner like this one).
Cook pasta according to directions, but with an extra cup of water. Two minutes before it will be done cooking, add all the chopped broccoli bits to the pan. Drain everything in a colander.
With the cooking pan over low heat, melt the butter and mix in the lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat, taste, and adjust seasonings. Then add all the pasta and broccoli back to the pot, and mix well.
Serve with a generous sprinkling of parmesan.