June 3rd, 2010

Alexander Calder's Kitchen!

Food -

Most of us remember the words "You are what you eat."  Many of us have been responding to the words of Michael Pollan on awareness of what we eat and how food is currently produced.

I read now Pollan's article The Food Movement, Rising in the June 10th New York Review of Books.   Americans have not had to spend much time thinking about food, about where it comes from, "or what it is doing to the planet, their bodies, and their society."

He continues, "Most people count this as a blessing. Americans spend a smaller percentage of their income on food than any people in history - slightly less than ten percent - and a smaller amount of their time preparing it: a mere thirty-one minutes a day on average, including clean-up."  He points out there are 17,000 new novel food products each year, and it is some kind of dream that we have access to such abundance with so little effort or thought.

I pause at "thirty-one minutes a day on average, including clean-up."  I think it takes me that long to make coffee in the morning, measure oatmeal into the pan, add water, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and fruit.  

Recently I overheard a woman complaining about the credit card her daughter was offered as soon as she set foot on her college campus.  When the daughter said she didn't want or need a credit card, the counter was but what if you see a blouse you want and you don't have the cash.  The mother of the student went into the bank and complained. This is what we need, in-person, outraged complaint.  We need to notice what is going on and speak. 

Osip Mandelstam wrote a poem that cost him his life.  It was worth it to him to write and openly quote his "Epigram Against Stalin."

There are many battles right now one could choose to champion but I think food stands out because food is what we ingest, what fuels us, what allows our minds, bodies, and spirits to function fully.   I watched the movie The Road this week.  I loved the book.  The movie and book present lessons in appreciation and presence, and perhaps taking the book and movie to heart, we won't end up with an apocalyptic world.  

Book Cover

A Poem for a Life!


Here are two translations of Osip Mandelstam's poem, Epigram against Stalin, which he may have only spoken and not written down until he was betrayed.  

The Stalin Epigram
by Osip Mandelstam
Translated by W. S. Merwin

Our lives no longer feel ground under them.
At ten paces you can’t hear our words.

But whenever there’s a snatch of talk
it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,

the ten thick worms his fingers,
his words like measures of weight,

the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip,
the glitter of his boot-rims.

Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses
he toys with the tributes of half-men.

One whistles, another meows, a third snivels.
He pokes out his finger and he alone goes boom.

He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes,
One for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye.

He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries.
He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home.

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