December 13, 2018

Food for Thought

The world today is so specialized that we have no understanding of how we are affecting the world. I don’t know where my friend bought this T-bone steak. I don’t know which farm it came from or what part of a cow T-bone is from. I don’t know how my money was distributed among the people involved. But at least I know how it was cooked because I watched my friend grill it.

Because this chain of causes involves a living being, and because we tend to anthropomorphize everything we see, it’s easy to see that there is something wrong with our ignorance of how we affect the world, but ultimately the cow is a distraction. The problem is much more fundamental and much worse; we simply don’t know what evils we are inflicting on others, because we don’t understand our own impact on the world.

The concept of “farm-to-table” is associated with healthy, sustainable, and socially responsible lifestyle, but the true benefit of it is experienced only by the owners of these restaurants. By overseeing the entire process, they are able to understand better their impact on the world. The benefit is existential, not economical or even political. There is no benefit to the customers because they still do not understand how the dish in front of them came to be. And, this understanding cannot be learned from Google search, just as you cannot Google what impact you would have on your own children. In real life, everything is contingent. Amassing of knowledge through reading will only make you more arrogant and misguided.

To address this problem, we need to de-specialize. Even though it is more efficient (and therefore more profitable) to divide labor into specialties, what we sacrifice is our existential understanding of life.

#tbone #steak #farmtotable #existence #philosophy #nycfoodie