I also have two kids and I’m pretty close to them. And I have about a dozen lifelong friends, and a bunch of people I’m just getting to know.
What are your commitments?
Besides work, besides family, those are the two big ones, I have three hobbies: I cook—it’s a hobby as well as work, I still love it, I fly small airplanes–not as often as I’d like—and I run. I’m committed to all of that.
What are your goals?
I think I covered this above. But I now have two new and important jobs, so I’d have to say my new goals are to be successful at them. I’m going to be writing three out of four weeks for The Times Magazine, and in that role I’ll have a pretty big portfolio; the idea is to find or create at least one fantastic recipe in each piece—not necessarily a “minimalist” one, but still one that people will be drawn to, will want to cook. But to do that I’ll have to meet new people, think in new ways, travel, and more.
And a weekly Op-Ed column? It’s a dream come true, so in a way you might say I’ve achieved a life goal. But now I have to become good at it. And frankly that makes me nervous as hell.
What does change look like to you?
In food? I’d like to see a fairer form of taxation, subsidies moved from one place to another; a stronger FDA, a more sensible USDA (really, the USDA should be broken into two agencies, one for agribusiness and one for consumers); and emphasis and support of regional food and food grown at small farms, by farmers making a decent wage. Oh, and better treatment of farmworkers and animals. And, of course, an increase in home cooking and support for that. That’s already a lot, but I think we can make some progress towards those goals in the near future.
That’s the work, anyway.
Regarding the practicalities of enacting change, what planning is involved? What kind of outreach?
There’s currently some despondency among the world’s progressives these days, and though it’s understandable it has to be combated. The Tea Party does not have a monopoly on anger, on demonstrating, on making demands; progressives need to do all of those things. If it starts with more letters or more progressive talk shows, that’s a start. We need action to keep from despair; we need activity, and with it will come a sense of empowerment. Shopping at farmers’ markets and growing our own food is nice, but this isn’t a back-to-the-land movement—at least not for most people—this is a how-the-hell-are-we-going-to-make-big-changes movement. We have enemies, mostly in big corporations, and we have to figure out how to force them to change their ways. A detailed manifesto of this would take some time to put together, but it’s possible.
Of course two years ago, many thought Obama was going to make a big difference, but regardless of what you think of the President’s or First Lady’s efforts it’s become more clear than ever that if citizens want change it has to come from the ground up. Only we can push the government and the corporations to make change; no one is going to do it for us.
What projects and people have you got your eye on or are you impressed by?
If I had to single out one person it would be Marion Nestle; she continues on an almost daily basis to inspire everyone who’s doing interesting and important things in the food world. There are a hundred other people I know who are important; there are thousands I don’t know, but hear about.
There are a lot of people whose work I like, and even envy, mostly for their analytic skills and ability to articulate things—for the most part they’re journalists and academics, both of whom have critical roles to play. People on the ground in the industry are also important–farmers, of course, but also people in food service—I’d single out the food service company Bon Appétit here (not the magazine!) who are starting to see the light. And even a few chefs.
Progress is slow but slow is usually more sustainable than fast.
Being an active progressive, yesterday participated in protest organized by Common Cause in Rancho Mirage, CA. I wondered the same thing "how-the-hell-are-we-going-to-make-big-changes" without getting arrested. Tooting our horns isn't enough. I choose to believe in a writer, blogger,nutritionist and others that social networking has produced and will speak to the real movements in food and justice.
Jen your above article and Mark your responses are words to build a strong foundation to live a better life with that provides us with quality foods, justice and peace in our society.