The Primitive Food Movement


The New York Times economics blog, Freakonomics, (which follows the methodology of the best selling book by the same name) has outlined what it calls the ‘Primitive Food Movement’ in a recent post.

Americans are currently embracing a strange sort of primitivism… This trend appears to be a unique response to a declension narrative that goes something like this: Americans once lived on small farms, ate locally produced food, did not poison the soil with chemicals, and always knew from whence their food came…

Current calls for dietary simplicity might have a revolutionary ring to them. But what’s overlooked in all the enthusiasm is this: Americans have always idealized, or at least harkened back to, an agricultural era when production was supposedly simpler, closer to the land, and unadulterated by the complexities of modernization.

According to the author, calls for ‘simple food’ were taking place during the Civil war and earlier.

After years of approximating the increasingly luxuriant habits of Empire, early Americans reacted to independence by playing up their status as rough-hewn frontiersmen and self-sufficient survivalists. In terms of food, this self-identification meant rejecting luxury for—you got it—the primitive simplicity of the first European settlers.

Consider taking a minute to read the post in its entirety. And don’t forget to take a look a the comments to the article at the bottom of the page.

(Image: windy_sydney)
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