Food Trends and Sustainability

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

Food trends are suspect in my world, I truly hope cooks will fight the FOMO (fear of missing out) when these lists are posted. Food trends tend to abuse certain ingredients to the point of extinction.

Remember the poor plantain (plan-tins) or Plan-taaains as Westerners like to pronounce it? It was a tall trend for a short time, showing up in every branded bag. Today we have to search niche markets in low rent areas to be able to find one or two blackened plantains. My point is, this trend in foods is devastating to farming around the globe.

I witnessed this devastation first-hand while touring South America. As the demand for this cooking-fruit grew so did the pressure on farmers to produce more, faster. Fungicides and pesticides were overused, plants abused. By the time I arrived in Guyana, South America, to tour a plantain farm, the crops had been reduced to small blackened fruits hanging beneath wilted leaves. Who knows how many farmers lost their livelihood for good?

A waste-not society should always be the utmost food trend.

Use the skins of produce when possible.

Use every skeleton of seafood and other proteins to make lovely broths.

Eat seasonal foods as often as the said seasons allow.

A short-term obsession is not a good foundation for your new  business, your own health, nor for sustainability. Moderation and variety are the only way to preserve the future of our food.

Fear Of Missing Out

Let’s take a look at Poke (pronounced po-kay without an accent), a food that has a strong sense of place in Hawaii, is now bastardized in trendy little spots popping up and down the coast.

“Hawaiians have a strong connection to the ocean, they live the philosophy of sustainability, usually – this dish, before it was named poke sometime in the late 1960s – is made up of reef fish (nearshore), or sweet river fish, and local ingredients to be eaten as a snack, a quick meal at home or as a part of a luau.”

What happens to the ocean if suddenly all around the globe these new trendy “Poké Bowls Restaurants” start nudging between the already established sushi bars, Asian eating spots and big box American Seafood restaurants, plus the drive to eat less meat? That would mean that with the increased consumption of seafood the ocean is going to take and even more devastating hit.

Do your bit by using sustainably caught or farmed seafood. Eating seafood twice a week is part of a healthy diet. Try vegetarian 2 days a week, meat 2 days and have an anything day once.

Go ahead it will be fun, as well as sustainable. Sustainable food aims to avoid damaging or wasting natural resources. It also minimises its contribution to climate change throughout the whole production process. The use of the earth’s finite resources is also considered. This includes the use of energy in transportation and storage.

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