The Real Food Renaissance - A Father's Day Perspective
The modern renaissance man is the beneficiary of a renaissance in real food. The real food movement is the promotion of food which "truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth. It is a food system--from seed to plate--that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability. Some people call it "local," "green," "slow," or "fair."" (The Real Food Challenge ( The realfoodchallenge.org has a goal to replace $1 Billion of industrial food purchases and colleges and universities with "real food " purchases)).
Markets are moving to more real foods - a real renaissance in foods produced in a new culture that eschews the environmentally challenging and less healthy foods first written about by Upton Sinclair at the turn of the 20th Century and followed by nearly a century of increasing industrialization.
The rise of industrial agriculture is summarized:
- 1927—world population reached 2 billion
- Land available for cropping became a limiting factor
- Increased crop yields prioritized
- Nitrogen fertilizers
- First use of pesticides in the early 1900s
- Traction power contributed to the expansion of farm size and decline in farm numbers
- 1960—world population reached 3 billion
- Industrial methods in agriculture well established in U.S. and other Western nations
- Chemical inputs for agriculture greatly increased
- Mechanized methods of farming and food production became the norm
- Animal agriculture industry begins raising large numbers of animals confined in crowded indoor facilities
- Dramatic increases in yields—with significant hidden costs
Environmental concerns started to change consumers habits at the end of the 20th century moving agriculture very slowly to a more sustainable format. And a more subtle change has been occurring with the renaissance in real food more recently - a desire to enjoy the diversity of foods and produced, foraged or caught in sustainable processes and environments. This renaissance is just beginning. Signs are everywhere. Forbes (Greg Maloney, May15,2017) outlined the following trends in 2017 which highlight the changing cooking styles of chefs who are both leading and reacting to altered eating habits:
Back to My Roots
Chefs are increasingly using traditional cooking methods with a modern twist on ingredients, preparation styles, and techniques. Ekstedt in Stockholm uses primal, back-to-basics cooking, to take the Nordic food movement in a new direction.
Restaurants have become complex, demanding more equipment and skill, but now they are returning to simplicity, the way food once was. The Meatball Shop in New York prides itself on serving up quality food with no strings attached.
Quality ingredients are becoming costlier, but slow cooking is one way restaurants have reduced overhead while still providing an appealing, quality menu. NURU in Mallorca features fusion treats like a tender Korean barbecue-style Angus rib, which has been slow cooked for 20 hours.
Bigger industrial food companies are being forced to react:
Food and drink megabrands are seeing their sales chewed away by smaller, nimbler, cooler rivals. They can't beat them - so now they're joining them.
Nine of the world's biggest industry players, including Danone , General Mills , Campbell Soup and Kellogg have launched venture capital units over the past 18 months, a Reuters analysis of the sector shows.
The aim of the strategy, according to interviews with executives, is to buy into - and learn from - the kind of start-up innovation that has become their nemesis, from micro-distilled spirits and cold-pressed juices to kale chips and vegan burgers.
Food and drink multinationals spend far less on R&D than their counterparts in many sectors like tech and healthcare. They have been wrongfooted over the past five years by the shifting habits of consumers who are increasingly shunning established brands in favor of small, independent names they regard as healthier, more authentic and original.
This is forcing the companies to take a leaf out of Silicon Valley's venture capital playbook - and their success or failure in harnessing promising new trends at a very early stage could help determine how well they adjust to the changing landscape, and whether they ultimately emerge as winners or losers.(Reuters, Martinne Geller, May 24, 2017)
So, as we approach fathers day and rejoice and celebrate the renaissance man that our father is, a convergence with a renaissance in real food makes it all the more meaningful.
Give dad the ability to achieve his full potential this Father’s Day
The market has answered demands for an enhanced eating experience, so why not provide the man who demands so little a treat from To-Table to feed his renaissance soul.