Organically Conservative?

On the surface, it sure seems like the local, sustainable food revolution is a progressive idea: good for the environment, anticorporate. But in the Boston Globe, John Schwenkler, a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley, maintains that Alice Waters and her ilk are actually espousing a profoundly conservative idea of food.

After all, modern food gurus emphasize values like tradition, community, and family, which are all big planks in the Republican platform. So, despite preparing a fund-raising dinner for Bill Clinton, it appears as though Alice Waters is at heart a conservative. Schwenkler rejects the notion put forth by Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism that there are “affinities between the organic food movement and Nazi totalitarianism.” As Schwenkler notes:

Renewing the culinary culture, and restoring the kinds of values required for the health of our Republic, is not the sort of thing that can be left to activists, environmentalists, and government bureaucrats. This is a conservative cause if ever there was one, and it is going to have to begin at home.

The conservative blogosphere did not take kindly to this upstart Berkeleyite and his newfangled ideas. At conservative media criticism site NewsBusters, P. J. Gladnick rips Schwenkler a new one, inferring that he is part of a recent trend of liberals trying to “rebrand themselves as conservatives.” Schwenkler admitted in the Globe article to cooking such delicacies from Waters’s Art of Simple Food as summer squash gratin, marinated beet salad, and wilted chard with onions, and Gladnick can’t hold back a snort of derision:

Yeah, real ‘Republican’ food there, John. Try as you might into making people think you favor traditional American meals, you just can’t make the leap to actually eating it yourself. Instead, your inner Berkeley liberal forces you to remain wedded to your diet of marinated beet salad and wilted chard. Please don’t grimace too much while the rest of us continue to enjoy our pizzas and spare ribs slathered in distinctly non-Berkeley barbeque sauce.

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