#1 | lack of food and lack of information are logistical problems
trying to establish parallels between material and immaterial provisions
Hey, you. Thank you for opening this e-mail.
Today is the debut of the section IN ENGLISH, PLEASE, where you will find the main essays I write for my recently created newsletter, fogo baixo, which means low heat in Portuguese. I hope you enjoy reading it! 😊
As you may discover if you read this e-mail until the end, I'm a Brazilian journalist and I write about food since 2013. In 2021 June I created this newsletter to share my slow-cooked ideas about food and feeding – that's why I publish only one essay per month. I'm trying to increase the frequency to two issues monthly from October on, but I hope I do it sooner. Please cheer for me!
Expect three more pieces until 30 August: two already published articles that I am still translating, and a brand new one, which is going to be on air on the same day as the Portuguese one.
[a long prelude]
Two days had passed and I was still thinking about what to write in my first newsletter. I wanted a good theme, a noble theme; after all, it's my first newsletter. I've been online for more than two decades now. Why haven't I tried this format before? I don't know. Maybe I relied too much on the common sense that says that once you publish something online, it will always be online... on cache pages. It took me a while to realize that the information flood we've been watching happen since social media arrived will bury, faster than ever, all those texts, pictures, and posts we worked so long on.
I always knew that the right thing to do is to migrate all your content every time you move from one platform to another. Having the backup done, keeping the pictures saved on high resolution – all of it just to rearrange them once again in a new room on the trending social media that may be created next month.
I'm not good at it. I'm used to pouring and sowing my lines all over the web since 2009 when I started publishing. I have written blogs (Tô Puta e Vou Cozinhar e Verdura sem Frescura), I have produced and recorded a podcast (Ouvindo Abobrinhas) and I have worked for almost eight years as a food magazine reporter. Posts on social media were always necessary to make texts and content reach more people, and I've been posting a lot to promote my hobby and work. Honestly, I'm a bit tired of promoting my work the way social media expects right now.
I’ve had fan pages on Facebook, properly abandoned two years ago, when reach and impressions got piddling and the timeline, almost unbreathable. Since then I've been wandering around online, having Instagram as my temporary compass, just awaiting a new social app to take its place.
The hardships of these transpositions are not about learning how to use a new tool (hey, TikTok, I'm looking at you), neither about outlining strategies that will make content thrive, but to pass through the always clumsy start in a new website, trying to get it right while searching for your audience midst the timeline mess.
When you start to feel a little bit comfortable with the social media dynamics, the algorithm changes and takes your seat. You have to run faster to catch it and to keep your seat at the table, even if you have to pay for it. What a bummer. Never mind me, I'll just sit on the floor.
That's what brings me here, to this first newsletter. Our e-mail address: that's the only certainty we'll keep for a long time in this virtual world. I chose to write a newsletter instead of blogging the traditional way because I knew how convenient it would be for me to write something that just pops in the readers' inbox (unless it ends up in the spam box), wherever the platform I choose to publish is. Part of the bonds created with my audience will remain. Right now, that's enough for me.
I wouldn't know how to adapt my content to those temporary spaces with their unsteady flow, and facing the platform itself playing against me, a loyal but non-paying user. Newsletters give me a sense of unity, spatial boundaries, and permanent home. I feel better sitting here, on a small cozy table, facing you tête-à-tête.
[finally getting into the title's subject]
Digging up shell mounds on these archaeological sites that accumulate illimitable posts daily is what I do to spend my free time. It's like having a bag of chips as dinner every day while standing on a crowded bus, waiting for a prepared dish to magically emerge from inside the package. I've survived this terrible habit for years; I assume you've done it too.
There's no paid traffic to the internet's healthy shelves. I fortuitously discover content and subjects that interest me, even though I'm the target audience. Every junk food, on the other hand, is plentiful: rumors, fake news, adulterated photographs, fallacious arguments on lame videos, hysterical texts on the brown press – all of this is free delivered to readers. People are fed Crunchy Cheetos daily instead of rice and beans.
Those who don't have time or knowledge to distinguish truth from lies (the term fake news for what we have in Brazil sounds to me like an oxymoron, because what we have can barely achieve to categorize news parodies) believes in everything that seems plausible and ends up feeding on what is willing “casually” in their path.
Crunchy Cheetos are greedily devoured. It gets engagement. It has a long shelf life. It's crunchy, for God's sake. Its flavor enhancer stirs up all of our taste buds.
The blame shouldn't fall on who's feeding on empty calories and brown press, but on who's providing the conditions that are causing food scarcity and disinformation abundance. We can't pretend we're shocked – not on Bolsonaro's government. We know how his campaign was built, with fake news farms, anonymous posts, and serial and massive production of artificially flavored disinformation – it was junk food but smelled like a home-cooked meal.
Bolsonaro and his supporters operate on demolishing the parameters of reasonableness in public debate, sowing doubt seeds over historical events – their preference is to call the military dictatorship period an honorable revolution. People who are part of his government are not ashamed to assume a statement that would be considered accursed ten years ago, and they do it under a varnish of what they call courage. It's all a well-played scene that makes the democratic dialogue unfeasible and drains out and drains out all subjects they're against – or frightened of. They've been building the stadium and making up new rules for years in a roll. And they're winning this game.
A reckless government that chooses regulations that benefit legal entities but remain silent about its people's rights just proves that every absence is a planned absence. Lack of food and lack of information are not the results of bad individual choices. They are public management matters: lack of food and lack of information are logistical problems.
The fact that Brazil agonizes because there are not enough vaccines to accelerate mass immunization; the fact that more than 500 thousand Brazilians died from Covid-19 even though it could be controlled with public campaigns educating people about masks, social distancing, and proper hygiene: it's a project.
The fact that Brazil is back to FAO's hunger map, that there's no public politics to assure expropriation of unproductive land and that native people are losing their already meager protection laws and public politics: it's all part of a project.
[quick note: it's a shame that until nowadays Brazil was not even close to starting a real discussion about proclaiming it a plurinational state]
A project that contributes to the lack of food, which affects 125 million Brazilians. Being healthy to work and having land to produce food are the common denominators to start talking about food security in Brazil.
But that's not how a State under the influence and pressure from agribusiness sees it – it's been like this for decades now. Selling commodities is not an efficient procedure to put food on people's plates; it only offers a larger cut for those who already have lots. It's such a counterfeit argument to say that we have to sell soy, corn, coffee, and populous herds of cattle to get some food basket and feed Brazilians. We produce it all – rice, beans, corn, meat, manioc flour, all kinds of fruits and vegetables – and we could produce sufficient for an intern market. But instead, we're still waiting for a little share from monoculture's incomes. It's a tortuous line of reasoning and it's commonly used by dishonest debaters to dodge questions.
People aren't ashamed anymore of defending so openly imprecision and dubious positions. The low parameters established by Bolsonaro's rhetoric combined with the permissiveness of social networks are devastating. To hold the platforms accountable for their permissiveness where disinformation freely spreads itself is a slippery task. Immediate possible actions, such as social media regulation, require a government that presents a minimal commitment to the truth – otherwise, it can backfire.
With dubious rules and claiming to promote freedom of expression, private companies tightly control the posting of nudity, but they connive to the passage of the platoon of racism and homophobia, attacks on democracy, and other absurdities that germinated and covered this wilderness, thanks to the rich fertilizer that manure is. What's left for us is to pick up the scythe and start brushing some of these weeds out.
[with this text I've just proved to myself once again that creating a catchphrase is easier than explaining its meaning]
Big thanks to my friend Julliana Bauer for the support and for reading this article so I can publish it less insecure about my vocabulary in English. Thank you, baby! 💖