To brew beer, to make cheese, to bake a loaf of bread, to braise a pork shoulder, is to be forcibly reminded that all these things are not just products, in fact are not even really ‘things’. Most of what presents itself to us in the marketplace as a produt is in truth a web of relationships, between people, yes, but also between ourselves and all the other species on which we still depend. Eating and drinking especially implicate us in the natural world in ways that the industrial economy, with its long and illegible supply chains, would have us forget. The beer in that bottle, I’m reminded as soon as I brew it myself, ultimately comes not from a factory but from nature–from a field of barley snapping in the wind, from a hops vine clambering over a trellis, from a host of invisible microbes feasting on sugars. It took the carefully orchestrated collaboration of three far-flung taxonomic kingdoms–plants, animals, and fungi– to produce that ale. To make it yourself once in a while, to handle the barley and inhale the aroma of hops and yeast, become, among other things, a form of observance, a weekend ritual of remembrance.
–Michael Pollan, Cooked