The Need for Flavor

On Being with Krista Tippett – interview with Dan Barber Driven By Flavor

I was listening to Krista Tippett‘s On Being radio show/podcast interview with Dan Barber last night driving home to have dinner with my mom. She made a zucchini lasagna without pasta. Amazing!

It was a great episode exploring the reasons behind flavor and sustainable agriculture. For many years we humans have selected seeds to grow differently for different reasons. Are those reasons ultimately good?

Well, of course the answer is you get what you select for. Select for more production, and you dilute the nutritive fruits of the plants you cultivate. Like in growing tomatoes: the breed of your tomatoes will dramatically impact their flavor and quality. Their breed comes from years and generations of selection, much from nature, some from humans. If productivity becomes stressed over quality of flavor and nutritive value, the same amount of possible nutrients the plant can provide gets spread over more tomatoes. Sure, you’ll have more tomatoes, and those tomatoes will have some nutritive value, but maybe you would like tomatoes better if they had more nutrients, they’d taste better, probably provide more nutrition, and you could probably be okay just having fewer.

I can’t help but see the correlations to our modern society, and I’ve long struggled with the drive to produce more drivel at the cost of any shred of quality. While you can be a productive human and make a lot of things happen, it is likely that if you over stress production, have any lack of focus, the quality and importance of those actions become more diluted and meaningless. With too much production, those projects that are attended to will be of less quality if production is forced over the nutritive and functional value of a few, important projects. The most difficult step is understanding how to find that balance, understand what is truly of importance, for in the grand scheme of things, a lot of things aren’t, and still others may be but are neglected. Hence, the relationship with understanding being and the role of sustainable agriculture and the joys of life with flavor.

Yes, there is always a balance to our act. I would argue that our modern culture is far out of balance considering the needs of global sustainability, energy consumption and completing the regenerative loop. The information age and smart phone economy may be a necessary development of the consciousness of the planet, but it is at the cost of China’s environment bleeding into global climate change and plunging us into an environmental and economic collapse. Economies and money-grubbing encourage a certain kind of uselessness, and just following one’s passions without regard to the implications in the rest of the world is equally dangerous.

The balance between the produced and imminent is always at key. If you’ve got it, I believe you get into the flow of love, be it romance or scrumptiousness. There’s nothing wrong with productivity, abundance either, but quality and balance in that experience, exposition and export is important.

Will we take the time to slow down and taste the carrots?