Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Philosophy of Food

We were watching Country File on Sunday evening and some chef was featured who only uses produce from Shropshire and will not countenance anything that's 'foreign', for want of another word. My first thought was; "Good on him," but then I pondered the fact that he must go to enormous effort, for which he must charge an enormous price for the food. Is this just a 'middle-class' fad?

When you think about it, 150 years ago few people had a choice and had to source their food from within a very small area comprising the distance one can travel to and from a market town by horse and cart. Since then we've improved transport to an extent where we can source produce from anywhere within the UK - and indeed the world - and have it on our plate within 24 hours, thereby vastly improving the variety of foods in our diet. The question is, at what cost to the environment? 

If everyone were to source their food from within a very small area, then producers would have very small markets and benefits of scale afforded by 'exporting' beyond one's locale would become obsolete. Not sure what effect this would have on some rural economies. Perhaps a balance is needed.

Yesterday I was listening to The Public Philosopher on Radio 4, which focused on the concept of citizenship in relation to benefits accruing from citizenship (charity starts at home is an argument usually made by those who never give to charity in the first place).

Someone made the obvious statement that the state exists primarily to protect its citizens, but no-one seemed to twig that, for the vast majority of the time we've lived in civilisations and states, the protection is mainly from another state - it's the state itself that is the problem and the attendant concept that people who live in a particular area are somehow superior to another.

When all's said and done, one's citizenship is a matter of pure chance. A state - or, rather, the leader of a state - is a threat to people who are not members of that state, which is why states have fought wars with other states since time immemorial. 

There again, the state is a useful mechanism for bringing people together in order to achieve more than individuals can achieve on their own. It can also protect the citizen from other, possibly rapacious, citizens through regulation of working practices, contracts and other issues that grease the wheels of industry, although that's only a relatively recent invention. The state is a two edged sword.

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