Number 66 was "Old Gourmets," referring to the great food magazine that Condé Nast retired in 2009 (after 68 years of publication). In addition to recipes, Gourmet was the home to inspired food-related writing.
While most of what I enjoyed about Gourmet was upbeat, one article, from the April 2009 issue, is a sad indictment to how far our food system has fallen. "No Such Thing as a Free Lunch" is a short piece focusing on the Red Cloud Indian School, a boarding school in South Dakota for Lakota children.
The author, Sam Hurst, does a masterful job in recounting how the school went from self-sufficient in all matters food ("Nobody ever got sick") to completely dependent on the government-mandated school lunch program (a side of obesity and diabetes, anyone?).
This paragraph does a good job summarizing the story:
"There was never a final decision to dispense with Red Cloud’s commitment to self-sufficiency. It just fell victim to a hundred small decisions and a cascade of unintended consequences. In 1910, for example, when the Great Sioux Nation was broken up and the best fields were sold to white farmers, parts of the Red Cloud farm were dispersed. When the worst stories of abuse at boarding schools surfaced, many liberal supporters of the school found the idea of children working to grow food an offensive echo of forced child labor. In the 1960s, when the school stopped boarding students, there was a natural expectation that they would eat at home. As farm bill after farm bill promoted formalized school lunch programs, regulatory standards became stricter and the rhythms of the school’s food system broke down. As sanitary regulations were tightened, students could no longer wash the dishes. Perhaps most importantly, knowledge slipped away. The Jesuit farmer-priests retired and died. No one replaced them. Idealistic young teachers arrived, but they taught history and chemistry, English composition and physics. No one was a farmer."Click here to read the entire article.