Last Friday, I spent a little bit of time at the Whole Foods cheese counter. This is usually a place that makes me giddy and over-stimulated--if a little anxious about over-spending--but this time I found myself feeling slightly melancholy (an unheard of occurrence when I'm clutching a chunk of cave-aged gruyère in my mitt).
There are so many sad things about this recession, and that little corner of heaven filled with all those artisan cheeses made me think of the folks out there who devote themselves to cultivating simple, beautiful, socially responsible foods. Yes, there is plenty of middling stuff lurking out there, but there are also beautiful examples of hand-crafted products made with love, in tiny batches, by dedicated people. These are farms, families and small businesses that love their animals and their land and remain dedicated to tradition and innovation. Plus, their shit tastes good.
It makes me sad that many people (myself included) will recoil from the idea of splurging on a chunk of wonderful cheese and settle for something slightly less delicious and nuanced, but significantly more affordable. It feels like a responsible thing to do.
These days everyone is talking about value--how to get the most for the least amount of money--but maybe it is also about buying smaller amounts of quality stuff, food that makes you smile, that makes your life feel richer. (Disclaimer: I am not feeding a family, which makes my choices different.) And either way, its still less expensive than eating out.