Free-range

As with many residents of the United States last week my thoughts turned to food. The most obvious reason being Thanksgiving, but there was also the audio version of Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma on the long drive to and from our meal in Southern California. In hindsight it may not have been the best choice as it had me calculating the corn content of the Thanksgiving dinner between bites. For those who haven’t read or listened to the book, Pollan traces four meals from their origin to his table and in the first section (the one we listened to on the drive) the path he takes is through the industrial food system which centers around corn, a path that ends at the pinnacle (or nadir depending on your point of view) of the industrial food system, the fast food meal.

Tessa Bunney: Chickens
Tessa Bunney from Hand to Mouth

It’s seems like more than a coincidence that the latest issue of Daylight Magazine, which I picked up before the trip, also focuses on agriculture. In it Peter Menzel’s images of feed lots and turkeys in California are compelling and related perfectly to the season, the location (driving through huge monocultures), and themes in Pollan’s book, but it was Tessa Bunney‘s work in the Romanian Carpathian mountains that I keep coming back to. I think they play into the same pastoral ideal that Pollan discusses that, even though I grew up on a small farm, I can’t help being seduced by. The idea of an idyllic life of simplicity lived in harmony with nature that conveniently leaves out all the work that’s involved and the nearly impossible situations the small farmer faces in the modern consumer culture.

Tessa Bunney: Haymaking
Tessa Bunney from Hand to Mouth

Tessa Bunney: Sheepfold
Tessa Bunney from Hand to Mouth

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