Category Archives: food

All UK honey tested in EU fraud investigation fails authenticity test (food systems require new labeling mechanisms to create transparency)

Adulteration of honey with cheap sugar syrup has been exposed in a new investigation by the European Commission, which found 46% of sampled products were suspected to be fraudulent. Ten honey samples from the UK all failed the tests. They may have been blended or packaged in Britain, but the honey probably originated overseas.

Milk Has Lost All Meaning

You overhear a lot of strange things in coffee shops, but an order for an “almond-based dairy-alternative cappuccino” is not one of them. Ditto a “soy-beverage macchiato” or an “oat-drink latte.” Vocalizing such a request elicited a confidence-hollowing glare from my barista when I recently attempted this stunt in a New York City café. To most people, plant-based milk is plant-based milk.

But though the American public has embraced this naming convention, the dairy industry has not. For more than a decade, companies have sought to convince the FDA that plant-based products shouldn’t be able to use the M-word.

Cows vs. Chemists: The Health Debates Over Plant-Based Meat

People who eat fewer animal products do so because they think it’s better for them. In a 2019 Gallup poll, 23% of Americans reported reducing meat consumption in the prior year (5% were eating more). Of those eating less meat, 90% cited health reasons, and fully 70% named health a major concern — big gaps from concern over the environment, food safety, or animal welfare.7 And global surveys by Euromonitor and Veylinx show similar patterns.

As the name suggests, plant-based meats have capitalized on the plant-based diet trend, and no company more so than Beyond Meat. The company’s IPO prospectus detailed the company’s “strong belief” that Beyond products can “help address concerns related to human healthclimate change, resource conservation and animal welfare.” Ethan Brown, the company’s CEO, leans into health claims in particular. In 2021, he told The New York Times that “a No. 1 priority” is to “make sure people understand that our products are actually better for them than animal protein.”

‘New American,’ ‘Fusion,’ and the Endless, Liberating Challenge of Describing American Food Right Now

“New American” got its start in Berkeley, California, in the ’70s at Chez Panisse. At the time, the cuisine it described didn’t have much to do with pulling flavors from around the world. Chef Alice Waters and her peers drew from the same tenets that were informing French culinary movements around that period: simplicity, freshness, and an attention to sourcing local ingredients. Eventually, the New Yorker suggested that Waters had invented at least part of “New American” cuisine, one where the farmers market dictated the meal.

The term came at an ideal time. American food was expanding and evolving, and writers and diners alike were looking to mark a change from the meat and potatoes midcentury food that you might have seen in Leave it to Beaver or Mad Men. In 1984, Jeremiah Tower, who had worked as the chef of Chez Panisse, picked up what Waters was doing and ran with it. His cooking pulled from the canon of classic American cooking, then added something—like, say, a Cajun remoulade or a ginger cream. At Stars, Tower’s restaurant in San Francisco, he served dishes like local grilled lamb with ancho chile sauce, avocado salsa, and cotija cheese. The restaurant was a smash hit, and became a who’s who of A-List celebrities and fawning food critics. In 1986, Tower published his first cookbook, New American Classics

Is the Entire Economy Gentrifying?

Companies are trying to maintain fat profits as the economy changes, making “premiumization” their new favorite buzzword.

The premiumization trend also reflects a divide in the American economy. The top 40 percent of earners are sitting on more than a trillion dollars in extra savings amassed during the early part of the pandemic. Lower-income households, on the other hand, have been burning through their savings, partly as they contend with the higher costs of the food, rent and other necessities that make up a bigger chunk of their spending.

The vertical farming bubble is finally popping because energy is expensive and lettuce is cheap

Gordon-Smith says that most vertical farms in the U.S. are a long way from profitability. “Based on an analysis we did for a large private-equity firm, we don’t actually see a scenario where in the next 10 years vertical farming will compete with field-grown at scale in North America,” he says. Right now, he says, the economics make the most sense in the Middle East, where extreme heat makes outdoor growing impractical and consumers currently pay high prices for imported greens.

Unrelenting Fermenting – The rapid growth of funky foods (Sign Salad)

While the relationship between humans and fermentation is probably older than time itself, the fermented foods industry, not unlike the scobies used to make kombucha, has grown rapidly in recent years. Research shows a swelling market for products like kimchi, kefir, kombucha, natto and tempeh, as well as a growing appetite for the potential advancement in plant-based alternatives to meat that fermentation helps provide.

“Far Away” as a luxury signifier keeps evolving

The ideological framework of “far away” has been used as a luxury signifier over the last few decades as externalities around it have changed. Its meaning has implied a sense of “global access” and “entitlement”. The water category is a prime example to see how these signifiers have evolved over the decades and face new challenges today as the idea of “far away” creates new cultural dissonance. Changes began to take hold after the recession in 2008 as a shift to guilt and localism began to replace global as having a more potent social currency for luxury.

From the 1980s when sushi became a signifier of that global access. The history of sushi’s rise in the United States has a lot to do with making the supply chain meet that desire. How can I eat raw fish “far away” from its source? You can if you are willing to pay for it. It becomes the signifier of 1980s aspirational luxury.

Today that idea of global access and entitlement has more complicated problems. Growing inequality and the pandemic have made the idea of “far away” more complicated. We see luxury signifiers shifting to a more “escape pod” ideological framework. From space tourism to luxury bunkers and the metaverse as well.

A student in Analyzing Trends pointed to the Space Perspective package being sold, so you can be a passenger on a balloon-borne pressurized capsule scheduled to make its first test flights early next year. A $125,000 temporary escape pod.

Douglas Rushkoff wrote about tech billionaires who are buying up luxurious bunkers and hiring military security to survive a societal collapse they helped create. And there is an article in The Atlantic that points out how we are already living in the metaverse.

Dystopias often share a common feature: Amusement, in their skewed worlds, becomes a means of captivity rather than escape. George Orwell’s 1984 had the telescreen, a Ring-like device that surveilled and broadcast at the same time. The totalitarian regime of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 burned books, yet encouraged the watching of television. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World described the “feelies”—movies that, embracing the tactile as well as the visual, were “far more real than reality.” In 1992, Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi novel Snow Crash imagined a form of virtual entertainment so immersive that it would allow people, essentially, to live within it. He named it the metaverse.