Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Votes, Cheesesteaks, and the New Yeoman

The internets pour buckets of info on me all day, so I almost never watch TV news, but yesterday was Primary Day; I'm in Pennsylvania; it's the silly season; and I couldn't help myself.

I had to see the early returns. The up to the minute analysis. Who said what as the polls closed.

I was looking for something silly, and, sure enough, I got it.

There was a solid two minute piece on last night's NBC Nightly News about the cheesesteaks that both Hillary and Obama had eaten in Philadelphia yesterday afternoon.

Apparently both felt that the best way to endear themselves to the state of Pennsylvania (and the rest of the country) was to eat a big, greasy, messy, meaty sandwich.

Ok. But wait. One question...

What if one of them was a vegetarian?

I think it's quite possible that we're not ready to elect a vegetarian president.

Now maybe this isn't important. It certainly isn't as important as the fact that we might not be ready to elect anything but a white male president. But I think it's kind of crazy nonetheless.

How would people react if a candidate said he didn't eat chicken because he thought industrial chicken cages were inhumane? How would voters react if a candidate said she didn't feel right supporting cattle farms because of the outrageous amount of methane they emit? What would we think if a candidate made a personal commitment to buying local and in season and from sustainably managed farms?

I lean pretty far in the optimistic direction most of the time, but I don't think we're ready. Low environmental impact houses are main stream enough. We're reasonably comfortable with people that drive hybrid cars. Buying carbon credits for plane flights doesn't bug anyone. But not eating meat or criticizing American industrial agriculture? We're not there yet.

Michael Pollan wrote an article in last weekend's NY Times Magazine, however, that offers a pretty cool path to a new culture. A culture that, among other things, embraces green leafy foods and agricultural responsibility.

He asks that everyone grow a little something to eat. One tomato plant. A pot of basil in a windowsill. Anything. And see how you like it. Pay attention to a plant as it grows. Measure it. Smell it. Taste it. Notice that you save a few dollars. And notice that it's fun.

Who knows. Cheesesteak culture's roots are deep. Maybe a few herb gardens won't affect anything. But I like Pollan's idea nonetheless. And I'd love to see us achieve a level of collective open-mindedness that would make it possible for a vegetarian to become president.


Erica said...

i started growing a few things a couple months back as a science project for school. i black-eyed pea plant, an apple seed (amazingly enough as i hear that is not common), a red bell pepper, and an orange. i had a lot more than that, but alot of them died in transport when i moved, also from being away and my roommate not caring about them. anyway, the ones i mentioned are still alive and quite well.
michael p. is quite right, it's amazing to watch them grow, and i feel very victorious when i solve a problem with them successfully.
it's also really silly but really fun to tell them how pretty and smart they are. b/c a friend told me that helps them grow, so it's a cute thing we do to be silly now.
my black-eyed pea is the closest to harvesting any fruit, since the other plants are trees.... but soooooon.

Jake de Grazia said...

Good call on the apple seed. Fruit trees. The agriculture of delayed gratification.

I was in North Queesland, Australia in November 2003, when I ate a strawberry mango for the first time. I'd been watching it ripen way up in that tree for more than a month, and I'd heard good things about what to expect. It exceeded all expectations. All mangoes past had nothing on that thing. I planted the pit to commemorate the event.

Sadly, I don't get to keep close tabs what grew out of it, but I have visited a few times over the years, and I get updates occasionally.

It's still a solid few years away from fruit, but it's a tree now, and it's planted outside and fending for itself.

It would be quite the unexpected coincidence if I happened to be in Oz for its first fruit, but I'll get to partake eventually. It'll have been a lot of anticipation, that'll make it even better.

I'm guessing your apples will be equally excellent.