The New York Times ran an article today about the decline of the much-lauded Mediterranean diet in favor of our own American brand of fat, salt, sugar and oil.
It’s a story that we’ve seen in a thousand other places – healthy and romanticized indigenous diets are crushed by the imperial weight of cheap, fast and easy. William Lederer’s “Ugly American” reborn for the 21st century as a fat American.
Stories like this start to take the wind out of the sails of the countless Italophile Slow-Foodites who doggedly insist that the pleasures of the table and the joys of eating locally and sustainably can win out over the corpulent corporates. If Americans need to start eating more like the Italians, why are the Italians eating like the American’s?
Fast, cheap and easy foods are prevailing all over the world because they are fast, cheap and easy, none of which are inherently bad things. We can continue romanticizing traditional diets that never really existed in the first place, or we can start to realize that a healthy, sustainable diet for the 21st century may not look like European diets in the 19th.
Traditional diets are going to start to change, and either we can spend our time weeping over spilt Ricotta, or think about why fast food comes to dominate markets wherever it goes. Maybe if we can get it together, we can start to build a system where sustainable food is fast, cheap and easy.