Jared Ingersoll on… food trends

“Pickles, fermentation and kimchi are very trendy.” I’ve been hearing this a lot lately and maybe I need a holiday but they are NOT a trend!

Consumption of dairy products in rural China almost quadrupling over a 10-year period from 1.06kg to 3.55kg – now that is a trend.

Foods that have been a common part of the global pantry for about 3000 years that are suddenly used by a handful of chefs and documented by a couple of food journos is not a trend. That, people, is what ‘fashion’ looks like.

Fashion can by all means start trends. Case in point with Chinese dairy consumption. Drinking milk was never a big part of the Asian diet but roll up Starbucks and look what happens. It can be argued that this fashionable Western aspirational brand selling buckets of their coffee- flavoured, sugary warm milk drinks has had a impact on the region’s milk consumption trending upwards. Or even that they have capitalised on the trend by making it fashionable.

Other fashionable moments in foods include the Atkins diet, lemon detox, 5-2 diet and raw diet. The trend that these little blips represent is the increasing paranoia of well off, well fed, healthy, urbanites who are often more interested in their looks than their diet’s nutritional value.

Organic food, ethical meats and sustainable fish are again used as fashionable labels in that same urban environment, as they are becoming more conscious of their food systems (over 70 per cent of organic food is eaten in a handful of Australian cities).

If you step outside of the big cities, set fashion aside and take a big picture look, trends do start to appear and some of these trends are actually quite scary! While we are becoming more socially and ethically conscious, and are better educated about the impact of how we live and what we eat has on our environment, the other trend are that we are increasingly prey to weight and health problems.

It seems we are consuming more and more processed foods that are being produced by fewer and fewer companies. We are also using more non-renewable resources to make even more food that we don’t need and we are throwing away more food than ever before. Perhaps it’s time to risk being unfashionable and break a few of these trends. Food for thought.

• Jared Ingersoll