A paper presented at the 21st Symposium of Australian Gastronomy, Melbourne 2016
In The Sirian Experiments, the third novel in the Canopus in Argos: Archives quintet, its narrator Ambien II at one point reflects on the precepts of the Adalantalands, people she has recently encountered: “I was thinking, as I went, about their third precept, that they must not take more than they could use, for it seemed to me to go to the heart of the Sirian dilemma…who should use what and how much and when and what for? Above all what for!” (Lessing “The Sirian experiments”).
Doris Lessing in her writings often asked this question of the production and distribution of food. Sizemore, writing in a recent edition of Food, Culture and Society alerted me to this thread in Lessing’s work. She writes, “[Doris Lessing’s] comments about food and critiques of global food distribution echo through her whole canon” (630). Sizemore examines this through three of Lessing’s works: In Pursuit of the English where Lessing depicts rationing post World War 2; The Summer Before Dark in which satirises the globalisation of food, international food agencies and food deserts; and Alfred and Emily “where she makes an impassioned plea for an ecological approach to the land and the ethical distribution of food”.