The Slow Cook blog is one year old. I trace the beginning to the attack on the World Trade Center. Many of us conducted a personal re-assessment at that time and sought comfort in family. We started a Sunday supper routine, having friends over for leisurely dinners on a regular basis. That was part of our answer to the question, "What's it all about?" Not long afterwards, I quit my job running the service end of a very lucrative catering business here in the District of Columbia. To tell the truth, the only thing I liked about that business was working with waiters. I hated serving rich people and being party to conspicuous consumption on a daily basis.
My wife convinced me to take up writing again. Having previously been a reporter for The Washington Post for 12 years--starting not long after Watergate, when Bob Woodward was running the Metro section--I had some writing skills. I sent a proposal to the Post's food section: It was a long take-out on Mexican pozole, a dish I'd been subjecting friends to over a period of months. The piece was never published, but it led to a rather prolific food writing relationship. Soon I was turning parts of our yard into a vegetable garden to satisfy my food habit. I was drawn into a food gardening project at my daughter's charter school that involved me building a 1,600-square-foot container garden there. I enrolled in Master Gardeners and in the course of trying to create a city-wide gardening organization met someone who introduced me to blogging.
You could say the rest is history, but that would be too simple. I think my life the last few years is as good an example as any of what's been happening around the country. In the course of becoming a food gardener, I was also introduced to the notion that the world might soon be running out of oil. I spent a good many nights tossing and turning, my head spinning with images of civilization crashing. I found myself on a mission of almost frantic discovery, plunging deeper and deeper into this counter-culture of internet voices warning of a world gone haywire. I have to say it was not easy or pleasant concluding that there are serious fissures in the platform on which my cozy lifestyle has been built. But from every angle the information and the trend lines are converging: Our self-indulged lifestyle is killing the planet.
Often my head hurts. There's more information than one person can absorb. And for a long time I was angry, angry that things had come to such a pass, angry that I wasn't sure what to do about it, angry that this emerging new world might mean unpleasant changes for my family. It certainly is daunting to get up each morning and consider the enormous public inertia, the tangle of corporate and political interests, that keep the old pollution economy standing. I find it hard to get my head around the sheer magnitude of greed and indifference required to keep this planet-snuffing juggernaut chugging along. What can I possibly do about it?
Yet I am inspired, and have been encouraged, by the many voices that are speaking up. I find blogs such as The Ethicurean truly heroic in their daily toil on behalf of righteous causes. So many others also are pulling hard in the right direction. I collect them, I hoard them, I try to read them all. You will find them listed among the many links on this page. These are voices you will not find in the food pages of your local newspaper. And from that I draw some comfort, that while we are not of the mainstream press, collectively we are being heard. We are educating ourselves and providing leadership to others. We are creating a new popular press, even while the corporate media are shrinking.
I don't spend a lot of time writing The Slow Cook. How it turned into a daily event I don't know. For some reason I feel compelled to spend and hour or so each morning saying something about how we are feeding ourselves in this corner of the universe. Really, it is not so much a rant as a personal journal. Each of us has something profound to say about how the world is turning in the 21st Century.
I'm not sure what the next year will bring. We go about planting and eating, trying not to fuss too much over our food, trying to be a little more local, a little less wasteful. I will endeavor to be more clever and engaging in the way I write about these things. And above all, more brief.