One of the most interesting food stories that Ive heard in recent weeks relates to the cost of milk in New York state. Milk here went up 60 cents from the beginning of the year to $3.54. The rising dairy farming costs are being blamed on competition for cattle feed from ethanol producers. It foreshadows a nightmare scenario: the worlds poor versus the rich worlds cars.
My short stay in Ireland a year ago was especially eye-opening. People there were talking very seriously about carbon footprints, organic foods, local production, plastic taxes, and food miles. Here, we have a different discourse. Academics get smeared as cultural relativists, especially those where I sit in anthropology. However, the real relativism is in a media that covers every event, except US military policy, with the same some-say-yes-others-say-no logic. Only very recently, and in the face of popular criticism have the media dropped the form in discussion of global warming to acknowledge that this is scientific fact. Still, a tacit hierarchy of priorities makes the 60 cent hike in milk a lot less interesting to the media than the same increase in petroleum. I cant help thinking that this is a very weird moment in the United States, and how we all might look back on 2007 a decade hence.