Today’s newspapers seem to be full of bad news about food–from Frankinanotechnology to tainted mozzarella. Usually, I welcome any kind of discussion that gets people thinking about their food. However, lately, I feel like people are just scared and misinformed by the media (imagine that). I am not sure how much reflection is really going on.
The case of mozzarella di bufala in the Campania region of Italy is very interesting. Perhaps you have been following the garbage scandals in Naples and now the tainted mozzarella scare. One of the first things that came to my mind as I read about refuse piling up in the streets of this southern city was people’s health. How long before the outbreak of diseases and the contamination of water? What also came out of this spotlight on the garbage scandal was the uncovering of numerous illegal dumping sites. The alarm bells began to ring in my head: in the areas surrounding almost all Italian cities there are numerous small illegal vegetable patches and fruit trees. How much of this illegal peri-urban agriculture has been contaminated by years of illegal dumping?
The focus on mozzarella has mainly been motivated by big economic interests and an international reputation that is at stake. What about the other agricultural activities that feed Naples? Mozzarella is likely just the tip of this edible iceberg.
“Speed is the form of ecstasy the technical revolution has bestowed on man. As opposed to a motorcyclist, the runner is always present in his body, forever required to think about his blisters, his exhaustion; when he runs he feels his weight, his age, more conscious than ever of himself and of his time of life. This all changes when man delegates the faculty of speed to a machine: from then on, his own body is outside the process, and he gives over to a speed that is non-corporeal, non-material, pure speed, speed itself, ecstasy speed.” Milan Kundera, Slowness, 1995.
It seems that so much of contemporary life is meant to take us away from our bodies (the Internet, fast food, the pace of everyday life). Do we fear corporeal experience? Are we running away from our own humanity through speed? According to Kundera, technology removes us from our human experience, which includes both pleasure and pain.
It is interesting that Kundera considers running a slow, embodied experience. I would agree. As a long-distance runner, I can attest to the patience, introspection and pain involved in completing a long run, which is often followed by a feeling of peacefulness and self-satisfaction. Ten years ago I would have told you I ran to run faster, but now my aim in running is to bring my mind and body together. In the novel Slowness, Milan Kundera goes on to explore the interrelations between slowness, speed, alienation and embodied experience. If speed is ecstasy, what is pleasure?
I often wonder if slowness is resistance? Is it a struggle for pleasure?