At the root of our anxiety about food lies something that is common to all humans — what Paul Rozin has called the “omnivore’s dilemma.” This means that unlike, say, koala bears, whose diet consists only of eucalyptus leaves and who can therefore venture no further than where eucalyptus trees grow, our ability to eat a large variety of foods has enabled us to survive practically anywhere on the globe. The dilemma is that some of these foods can kill us, resulting in a natural anxiety about food.
These days, our fears rest not on wariness about that new plant we just came across in the wild, but on fears about what has been done to our food before it reaches our tables. These are the natural result of the growth of a market economy that inserted middlemen between producers and consumers of food. In recent years the ways in which industrialization and globalization have completely transformed how the food we eat is grown, shipped, processed, and sold have helped ratchet up these fears much further.
So maybe more of us have to start our own gardens, or till a plot in a community garden. And maybe we need to rethink our way of life, top to bottom so we have more time to prepare our own food.