The Politics of Food and the Historian's Work: Where the Twain Shall Meet, Part 3 of 3

Part One --- Part Two --- Part Three 

Want to hear something even sadder? I’ve not even finished writing this new book, and I’ve already been accused of being a mouthpiece for Corporate Food.

I’m not. I’m a historian who has chosen to write about a complicated, contentious issue. (Again, I was more or less oblivious to this “food fight” until I was well into the project.) I don’t know where the “story” will go.

Why? Because I’m still researching its contents and, like any historian, I let the facts guide me toward clarity and understanding. But I doubt it will be a “story” one that either side wants to hear. It’ll be too complex. It won’t toe the party line. It won’t conform to the mythology that is the underpinning of both sides’ arguments.

Hey, that’s the nature of real life: it’s complicated and it almost never fits into the either/or, black/white scenario that we’d like it to. That’s also the curse, and the blessing, of the historian’s work.

All this leads to an obvious question: When I’m finished with the book, will I have an opinion about the “food fight”?

Answer: Certainly. By then I’ll know something about the issues, ideas, and events that led to this moment in American history, and I’ll have enough facts to make an informed judgment about this debate and to take a stance on it.

Put another way, I’ll be a more educated, informed citizen. With luck, you’ll read my book and you, too, will have enough information to make your own judgment. And you, too, will be a more informed citizen. At least that’s my hope.