The Politics of Food and The Moosewood Cookbook

Food is a political issue. What we eat, how we eat, and what we do with the leftovers is political. How we grow food, how we transport it, how we advertise it, and how we process it is political. Everybody eats and the choices we make around food are political. Some activists in the American food movements talk about voting with your forks or your wallets, a call that indicates class privilege yet still holds truth in a capitalist society. Many North Americans live in food deserts and are unable to access fresh produce in a market, let alone from local farmers. The move to urban centers and the pushing out of agriculture from the urban landscape that happened at the end of the 19th century has created a society where many are disconnected from their food- unaware of where their nourishment comes from and the basic processes of growing crops and rearing livestock.
The rise of foodie culture and the food movement since the 2000s have cast light on some of these issues, but this is not the first time in modern history where people have been concerned about their food. Alice Waters, celebrity chef of Chez Panisse, is renowned for her comments on how during the countercultural movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s people in the Bay Area would protest American corporations involvement in the creation chemicals used for warfare in Vietnam while at the same time eating burgers and buying food sprayed with chemicals produced by these same companies.
The Moosewood Restaurant and Cookbook exist as part of this story in which activists wanted to take control of their lives by creating spaces that served healthy and hearty foods.  Restaurants such as Moosewood challenged assumptions during their period that vegetarian food was in the words of Woody Allen, “a plate of alfalfa sprouts and a side of mashed yeast: (Annie Hall, 1977).
I love the Moosewood cookbook. Every recipe works brilliantly and the food is so delicious. Since purchasing a copy it has been my go-to cookbook for hosting dinner parties.

I have now, on multiple occasions, prepared the Curried Mushroom and Squash Soup. This dish is a bit work intensive since you have to bake the squash first before preparing the rest of the soup but it is seriously worth the effort. I tend to add more garlic than is recommended by the recipe. It has always been a rewarding dish when cooked for friends.

I like to top it with some fresh goat cheese and serve it with Moosewood's focaccia bread. I would say that you actually don’t need quite as much flour as the recipe calls for and I would recommend adding a little bit of olive oil to the dough.

To accompany these dishes I prepare the Moosewood green salad, which is basically just throwing in whatever veggies and fruit that I want.

I don’t tend to make dressings on a regular basis but I decided to prepare the "very green dressing" and it is fantastic. It is light and actually you can use it as a sauce on pasta or even as a beverage.

For a main course, I like preparing the eggplant parm with the homemade pasta sauce recipe.

This is a seriously delicious meal, especially when paired with a nice red wine.

To finish though, I insist that you bake the piece de resistance: the mocha cake. This cake is an explosion of flavor when I serve it alongside my home brewed moka stout and with a scoop of moka frozen yogurt.

 The experience of eating this cake is so pleasurable that you won't ever want another type of cake ever again.

The Moosewood cookbook lends itself easily to substitutions and hearty meals. Though the above meal seems very complicated, if you plan your timing well, it takes less than 4 hours of prep and cooking time- which for a special occasion is definitely worth it.

I want to end my post with this inspiring quote by Howard Zinn: “We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an endless succession of presents, and to live now as we think humans should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
Let us remember, food can be a vehicle for social change.

(post by Alex Ketchum)