the importance of mapping one’s alimentation
Food, through its production to consumption, gives us multiple opportunities to contemplate on space. By this I refer to the geography of food; that is, where food is grown, processed, or even reared; how it gets to us; and finally, the spaces within which we eat our food.
There is also the issue of the spatial configuration of food itself. For example, understanding the molecular structure of food and why differences between organic and genetically modified crops might matter.
Whether it is at a micro- or macro-level, it cannot be denied that our daily sustenance has an interesting geography that we often take for granted.
Many of us urban dwellers are now used to eating foodstuff that is not grown in our cities, or even for that matter in our countries. The luxury of food choice means that we expect to be able to acquire groceries that are out of season or foreign to our locale, without much thought about how they are produced and transported to us.
As we eat our favorite bar of chocolate, for example, little do we think of the cocoa farm abroad that might employ child labor, in order to yield bountiful harvests for a voracious global economy.
We certainly do not consider whether the international demand for chocolate leads to the exclusive use of land for a cash crop such as cocoa, as opposed to farmers growing a variety of crops for local consumption.
We also do not wonder as to whether the farmers, who supply these raw produce (at prices they do not control), are able to maximize on profits by manufacturing refined products such as chocolate. And if indeed these farmers do have small enterprises for turning cocoa into chocolate, are they then able to get fair trade prices for their products?
Aside from the farmers, we also do not think of the labor that brings these products to our markets through the likes of harvesting, production, truck driving, packing, portering, and all other considered ‘menial’ jobs linked to delivering food from farms to our tables.
When it comes to where food is eaten, this is something that is quite familiar to us. We have clear ideas of our restaurants of choice and why we eat in them, as opposed to…