Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Politics of the Pantry




Michael Mikulak

Grab your mug of fair trade coffee and a slice of home-baked sourdough bread and dig into this fantastically edifying book. Hamilton’s Michael Mikulak presents the politics of the pantry in a sophisticated and well-rounded way, encouraging readers to think critically about the source of their food and the manner in which it arrives at the table.

Mikulak doesn’t preach about his morals or try to convert the world into locavore vegans. He simply presents a compilation of his and others’ experiences in a factual and thought-provoking manner. I particularly enjoyed reading about his transition from vegetarian to omnivore and his realization that one lifestyle may not be morally superior to the another; there are benefits and detriments to all gastronomic choices. Throughout the book he provides a compelling argument for slow food while exposing capitalist motives and the promotion of “natural” and “organic” food through pastoral images. He highlights that these images rarely, if ever, match the realities of the situations.

Upon reading this book, readers will be compelled to examine their own lifestyles and make smarter choices at the market or grocery store. I certainly noticed a heightened awareness while shopping, which manifested itself in an increase in local vegetables and a total lack of processed items in my basket.  Mikulak recognizes that the luxury of buying local and spending more time and money on food may not be plausible for everyone. But he insists that even one small change is helpful if we hope to save the world we’ve been exploiting with our capitalist mode of agriculture.

I can’t stop talking about this book, both from a political standpoint and an agricultural one. This is a must read for consumers seeking insight into the politics behind their culinary choices. Bon app├ętit!

Laura Martin's lifelong addiction to fiction took a back seat when she went to the University of Guelph for Molecular Biology and Genetics. She became fascinated with neurological conditions like Alzheimer's Disease and dementia, and is hoping to attend Dalhousie University in the spring for a Masters in Neuroscience.

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