Food Thieves

Clive Barker isn’t someone you’d immediately associate with children’s literature. He’s more about pinheads and adult horror.
For some reason, though, Barker decided to write a young adult fiction called The Thief of Always.
Harvey is a bored ten-year old wishing for some Jumanji-like fun when some peadophilic-like man blows through the bedroom window offering him candy a holiday. Entering a world hidden from adults where the four seasons and their associated holidays (Christmas, Halloween…) visit daily, Harvey quickly becomes suspicious.
One image which stayed with me from reading this as a child is the moment where one of the creatures of the house, Jive, eats some pie and collapses in a pile of dust. This is a result of eating what he himself is made of, apparently. So I always remembered this being about a house which lures children and tricks them into eating dust. I was a pretty smart kid obviously. That distinctive image stood out again as I re-read the novel recently. Something about eating dust just disturbs and perturbs!

Meanwhile I’ve been reading a food guide/recipe book, The Real Food Companion (by Matthew Evans), which seeks to debunk food myths and share knowledge about the food we’re buying, rather than simply telling us the best way to saute onion in cider. Evans divides his book by produce. Under chickens he shares not only info on the mistreatment of chickens (which most are aware of now) but also useful facts like how to identify a healthy organic chicken (by say, the visible veins on its legs).
It’s interesting to learn that in order for certain foods to be mass-produced for our ever-growing populations we need to lower our expectations. Evans argues that our food has become tasteless. In order for seasonal produce to be made available year-round he argues that our fruit, vegetables and meat are all less than the best in order to provide consistency.
To that end we are eating food made of “dust.” It is not “real” in the sense that it is not naturally developed or delivered. It is easier and more plentiful but in a nation with an increasing obesity problem this is becoming less important.
I am a bit of a “foodie” and lately I’ve been holding off on buying groceries from Woolies or whatever few giant and crowded Canberran supermarket I can get around in. Rather, I’ve been showing up to one of the Farmer’s Markets on Saturday mornings (when I’m sans hangover) to buy food straight from the source, rather than through a middle man. And you really can tell the difference.
I’m yet to see the film but Food Inc. is a recently released documentary which explores the food industry and how sick it is making us in its belligerent negligence towards basic wellbeing, in favour of making a profit. Fortunately just like Harvey in Thief of Always we are learning just how naive we have been placing blind trust into an industry which seeks to fatten us all up on cheap crap, rather than focus on the quality of produce.

Sleigh Bells – Crown on the Ground

2 Responses to “Food Thieves”
  1. Shazza says:

    I love this analogy between the Thief of Always and the mass produced food industry! A lot has to be said about the appearance of things in enormous supermarkets. Meat looks real there but as you say it is mostly ‘dust’ with a whole bunch of additives to make it look red and meaty. I am a farmers market convert thanks to you!

  2. ahasbeenthatneverwas says:

    Thanks Shan. 🙂 I wouldn’t have been aware of this devastation of our food if you hadn’t alerted me to it back when you were with DAFF and telling us about how we’re going to run out of fish due to heavy farming, and how quickly we’d run out of food if truckies went on strike.
    Thank god for farmers markets we have an alternative to rely on.

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