The illusion of choice

The Guardian has investigated the extent of monopolization of food production and it’s quite a thing. Though most of us are aware that many of the products on the shelves are from the same company, even competing brands, the investigation found that “for 85% of the groceries analyzed, four firms or fewer controlled more than 40% of market share.” For many supermarket goods, just a few international corporations “dominate every link of the food supply chain: from seeds and fertilizers to slaughterhouses and supermarkets to cereals and beers.”

On the lighter side of food, there is, apparently, a trend for “no-recipe-recipe” books in the modern culinary world, and Marian Bull writing at Eater decided to dive into the history of recipe writing. While this may be a subject more for the foodie Mad Monday readers, Bull actually covers some interesting ground.

Writing in paragraph form started in the 1500’s, as did the printing of recipe books, yet the way of writing recipes that we see as standard today is fairly new. Before that, many steps in cooking a dish were assumed. Citing the example of a Vietnamese cookbook from the 1940’s, Bull highlights how the author’s omissions reflect the “implied cultural proximity between author and reader… Her readers know which bones to simmer for pho broth, and for how long.” Many people today probably forget there was a time when Americans didn’t know what pizza was

While there is controversy and politics even in the world of recipe writing, nevertheless, the article is an interesting insight into the the global nature of modern cuisine, the passing on of cultural knowledge, and how you need to learn the rules “before you can begin riffing.”

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