Time to say farewell, and to thank you, Meg, for your great hospitality and generosity in allowing me to post on your blog. It's been a great experience, and has allowed me to explore some ideas I'd never have pursued in traditional media while using a voice that is only appropriate to a blog. I'm very much a believer in the how-do-I-know-what-I-think-till-I-read-what-I-write effect, so the freedom of the blog has helped me to figure some things out. Such as why the foie issue is so troubling to me.
In the end it's not about the foie. Life would be diminished in a very small way without foie gras but not drastically so (they way it would be, say, if pork were outlawed). It's that it represents another way uninformed people are trying to legislate what I am or am not allowed to eat. Government is happy to subsidize corn and encourage horrific treatment of billions of cows, pigs and chickens, to encourage through big business processed food that is bad for us, and then tell me that I'm not allowed to eat a natural product from an animal that has (in my opinion, as of now, though this may change) been humanely raised. When people tell me what I can or cannot eat based on a moral contention of their own, that really pisses me off. It's happening throughout our society. The foie issue embodies this troubling trend in America.
I believe that the issues about food that are discussed on the food blogs are important because how we eat determines how we live, literally and metaphorically. How we eat, and the decisions we make, shape the world. From an evolutionary standpoint, humans are a dangerous species–a wickedly smart predator that has so far managed to avoid the ecological disasters of its own predation. I hope we continue to do so, for my kids' sake, but it's going to get harder and harder. We're trashing our livestock; through genetic engineering and the creation of a monoculture, creating powerful bugs that can kill; we're fishing out our oceans, working our way down the food chain, and we're pretty much at the bottom feeders now; we're creating massive dead zones in our oceans from agricultural pollutants, bankrupting our fossil fuel supply and burning holes in the atmosphere.
So yes, dammit, that's why foie gras is important: because it's NOT important. Does that make sense? It shouldn't be important, but it has become important, and that is the shame of it.
See, there I go. I start out thanking Meg, and I tumble into another rant. But it seems to be the only way to be heard. Flannery O'Connor once explained that all her characters were in effect caricatures because it was the only way to make people see. Blogs seem to be particularly good at this as well. Food is important, arguably the most important thing there is, that and water. And blogging well and intelligently about food is important. Maybe it can change things. I hope.
So many thanks to all the excellent readers who commented on the issues, elevating and enhancing them and giving them perspective and balance. And again, many thanks for the opportunity to hang out for a short time on your excellent blog, Meg. I'll be reading.
17 thoughts on “Thanks, Meg!”
Thanks so much for the blogging, Michael. At times, it was amusing, other times it was thought-provoking, but it was always a joy to read.
I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. I for one would love to see you write your own blog on a regular basis.
I’ve enjoyed your writing as well, and recently read your ode to hot dogs in my last issue of Gourmet.
When are you going to start your blog?!
Thanks for contributing to the conversation here. Hope you decide to come back and visit in the future.
Michael, your contribution has been huge. As a high school teacher, I can’t resist regressing to age 16 to say: “You Ruhl!”
(You are so tired of that joke…) Erica
Michael, I think that was a very well expressed summation of the foie gras issue. I’ve objected to strenuously to comments telling me not to take such an unimportant issue so seriously by the very same individuals who are taking it seriously enough to impose their subjective morality on others.
I sure hope you start your own blog, Michael. The world needs more ranters as elegant and thoughtful as you.
thanks everyone for your kind words and encouragement. i’ll have to do some thinking about the blog issue!
I’ve enjoyed your posts a lot, Michael. I certainly didn’t mean to imply by my previous comment (banning foie is silly, getting angry about it is kinda silly) that thoughtful, creative, opinionated writing about food is silly. I think it’s fantastically important.
My concern (and perhaps this is just my real-life job as a political director rearing its head) is that the foie gras fight, even if you’re fighting on the pro-foie side, takes the focus off the important issues you mention above. And to successfully deal with those important issues, we’re gonna need as many people as possible on our side. We’ve got to convince non-food-obsessed folks that they must pay attention and take action. And I don’t think focusing on foie is the way to do it. I don’t think it brings enough people into the discussion and willing to consider they way they live and eat in the world.
It’s been great reading your posts. Another vote for you to start your own! (Try Live Journal, I have one there and it’s really easy.)
I, for one am glad that your guest blogging has at least for the time being come to an end. I simply don’t have the time left for more Ruhlman. The Reach Of A Chef: Beyond The Kitchen on the nightstand. Being reminded just how much I loved Judy Rogers cooking and the cookbook. Digging out “the Zuni”, spending hours re-reading – cooking knowing that it’s one of the keepers. Defining through your words a personal stand on the foi issues. Ordering from Hudson Valley. Laughing at the “fat pant” comments – and Bourdain, both the ridiculous and the sublime. Ordering Molly O’Neill’s book about her family to find out if she really is one of my cousins as my aunt’s have claimed. It goes on and surprisingly on. Puzzling for a not so easily suggestible guy. Thanks for this.
Thanks for all your posts, Michael.
Your posts have been a joy to read, Michael, and it’s been a pleasure to read your thoughts. I’ll have to print each post, bind them together, and place them on my bookshelf next to all your titles.
Out of curiousity more than anything else: was Michael Ruhlman paid for his posting on megnut?
Its an interesting element of blogging that seems ripe for a look – but yet hasn’t really been discussed widely.
I think that it is pretty much assumed that blogging is unpaid and magazine/print writing (along with online “magazines” like Slate, etc) are paid. Not that it should be that way necessarily – but its out there.
No offense to Meg, but I found myself frequenting this site more and more, mostly hoping to see another Ruhlman Rant (TM) and maybe, just maybe a reply or two from Tony. I sincerely hope that those days aren’t gone. I hope that you or Meg are able to let us know when you’ve got things posted elsewhere.
Michael was not paid for his blogging here. But plenty of bloggers are paid for their work. All the people that do blogs for Gawker Media and Weblogs Inc. get paid, and many other people who have ads on their sites earn a significant income for blogging. I think it’s an element of blogging that has already developed, though maybe some people are less aware of it than others.
Another thank you to you Michael. I’ve got to check out your books. I’ve really enjoyed your posts, how your thinking out something and sharing that process helps us start to think about things. It’s just nice to get some commentary/analysis as opposed to ‘this is what I did today’ and ‘this is a news item’ as a change of pace.
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