Nicola Graimes begins The Greatest Ever Vegetarian Cookbook with an introduction that ranges through history and geography to enumerate the healing properties of food.
Throughout history every culture has used food to prevent and treat illness and disease, and promote good health. The Egyptians praised the lentil for its ability to enlighten the mind; the Ancient Greeks and Romans used honey to heal wounds; and in China, sprouted beans and grains were used to treat a wide range of illnesses, from constipation to dropsy.
This survey veers to condemnation.
However, around the time of the industrial revolution, people in Western countries came to disregard the medicinal and therapeutic properties of food and it is only relatively recently that interest in the healing qualities of food has been revived.
Obviously a deficit of mind opening lentils is at play in this revisionist history that partakes of a grand narrative of fall and recuperation. Some people living through the Industrial Revolution were concerned with food distribution: witness the development of canning and pasteurization.
Aside: It is with fondness that I recall tinned peaches from my childhood. Now my memory finds its place in a long line of succession. There were many others before me to value summer in a jar served in mid-winter.
So many of the fresh ingredients in Graimes’s book depend upon refrigeration and rapid transportation to reach their destination. These are technologies of a later Industrial Revolution. If we are mindful of history we are led into thinking of systems of production and a more encompassing picture of (ecological) health.
And so for day 1051