A fumarole of impassioned comments attached to a recent post by Michael Ruhlman where he alleges the arrogance of vegans, got me wondering again about what I think about the nature of the act cooking and eating and their relationship to the world outside of the kitchen and dining room.
It is obvious to me that advocates of veganism, organic food and a bunch of other folks who advocate one form of cooking and eating over another, believe that they can and should promote social change through what they choose to cook. But I'm not sure how much I really care about the impact of my food choices on the rest of the world.
Sure I try to buy local and organically grown foods. And I prefer to buy meat that comes from animals raised under humane conditions. But I think that in the end what I care about most is intrinsic quality. If my butcher has two types of beef: one from an animal that has been feed antibiotics and the other completely drug free, I'm going to buy the one that has the best marbling and color. And if that means buying the meat that contains traces of antibiotic, I buy it.
When I cook I don't worry much about the impact of my actions on anything other than the final intrinsic quality of the dish I am trying to prepare , and whether or not the people who will eat it will like it enough to want to eat it again. Perhaps I'm just old school at heart. After all, I learned a lot of what I know about the nature of cooking and the dining experience from chefs like my grandfather, who for several years worked in a kitchen that was managed by Escoffier. For this generation of chefs cooking was an occupation devoted to the incitement of pleasure, not social change. I suppose I'm way more of a Fernand Point than a Michael Pollan.