The issues that come up during presidential elections involve food, directly or indirectly, more often than it would seem at first glance. For starters, there’s the obvious stuff: the morality of Bloomberg’s soda tax, the Broccoli Argument against Obamacare, and the question of extending expensive farm subsidies, to name a few. But questions of food are embedded in many other issues as well. You can’t talk about food politics without talking about regulation of businesses small and large, environmentalism, and even states’ rights (think of California’s foie gras ban).
Sometimes the best dishes are the least complex.
I laughed reading a line in an Ina Garten interview in the New York Times yesterday: speaking of her preferred weekend lunches, she said, “I don’t like fancy food.” It’s a funny thing for a food professional to say, but it makes sense: as she instructs in her "Back to Basics" series, simple food, prepared well, surpasses extravagant dishes executed without expertise.
In case you had any doubts about the colonizing reach of American food culture, rest assured that it’s alive and well. Food trucks, those nomadic quasi-restaurants that have roamed streets from Manhattan to West LA in recent years, have now arrived in Paris. A front-page article in the New York Times yesterday documented the newfound popularity of food trucks in the City of Light, which are run primarily by American chefs and serve primarily American food. As Julia Moskin wrote, “Among young Parisians, there is currently no greater praise for cuisine than ‘très Brooklyn,’ a term that signifies a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality.”
“Not everyone can afford to eat well”: this has been the rebuttal to health-food-enthusiasts in general (and locavores in particular) ever since the rise of writers like Michael Pollan. The argument goes that it costs more to buy healthy produce than a Big Mac. In the past, economists have compared the prices of these foods by the amount of calories they offer. Recently, however, the FDA conducted a study comparing food costs not only calorically, but also by price per edible weight and price per average amount eaten. The results? According to the latter two methods, “grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy foods are less expensive than most protein foods and less healthy foods.”