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Millau, 12 Aug. 1999 sheep farmer and Roquefort producer Jose Bove & a few friends decided to dismantle an under construction McDonalds in the South of France. His action was precipitated by an EU-US trade dispute at the WTO where the cheese had been punitively subject to a 50% tariff. 

Some accused Bove of nation bashing, of national chauvinism. But Bove himself made himself clear that his target was not the national origin of the restaurant. Rather, it was the quality of the food it served.

It wasn’t anti-American, it was anti-malbouffe (against bad food). It was a struggle against global free trade and capitalism. It was about the logic of a certain system, of globalization, of homogeneity, it was not directed at those who carry an American passport. 

In a later incident Bove was detained for setting fire to a field of genetically modified crops. At the same time a group of peasant Indian farmers were touring Europe as part of an international caravan. After Bove’s arrest they insisted the French Authorities arrest them too, the meaning of the golden arches was just as objectionable to them. 

Bove is part of an international movement, one that is far from knee-jerk. It’s a movement that would like to turn the clock back to a time when food was the result of traditional cooking. 

The amount of time spent cooking in UK homes has fallen dramatically in the past hundred years. This has happened as a function of women’s changing role in society, the possibility of long food storage and preservation, longer working hours, the availability of food which is quicker to prepare, and the sense that there are better things to do than food preparation. 

Bove is aiming to return the meaning of food to one of celebration rather than one of requirement. When people no longer feel the need to eat together at home or cook for themselves then the family will begin to disintegrate. Those who do this are complicit in the march towards universal alienation. 

Children tend to do better when they interact with adults and mealtimes are the best time to interact this is not, I offer rocket science. Bove is making a much deeper point though, adults do better when taking time to eat, to appreciate the ingredients and the process of cooking. 

1934 = average time to cook a meal 150 minutes (2.5 hours)

2010 = average time to cook a meal 8 minutes 


One thought on “Anti-Malbouffe

    vickie1 said:
    January 3, 2013 at 15:44

    Philip, our inability to cook or socialise goes in a direct line to the work demands placed on us by our hectic modern life. And the technology exacerbated our lack of personal freedom, instead of freeing us. We are the modern day slaves, and slaves are not expected to have free time or leisure – even if we are wearing suits.

    Look at the declining birthrates all over the Western world – we can’t afford to have children – don’t have either money or time for them.

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