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S7 E4 –Are food holidays a waste of everyone’s time?

These days it seems as though we’re bombarded with all sorts of weird and wonderful food holidays celebrating any number of dishes. This week, Mike, James and Barry discuss which ones (if any) are worth dedicating a whole day of celebration to. Some of them seem to have been created in good faith with the intent of improving humanity…. then 15th February rolls around and it’s National ‘I want butterscotch’ day again. All of this poses the question, are all of these holidays a waste of our time?

Best soundbite: “Imagine for example, there was like a ‘Christmas’ Day” – Barry Taylor

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  1. Zoej10

    I get cynicism, I’m all for it. That being said, sometimes it’s just fun to celebrate silly things, for no other reason than I just really want to eat a doughnut… Bring on national doughnut day. It’s just an excuse for me to eat a doughnut and that’s kind of okay. Not all holidays have to have significance to make them worth celebrating. Christmas clearly has a worldwide significance to millions of people, but I enjoy celebrating it equally as much as a holiday created from an internet meme sometimes, because I attribute my own meaning to them.
    I don’t think things such as world hunger day should be considered in the same category as some of these sillier days, similar to things like Veganuary and dry January, because they serve very different purposes and originated for very different reasons. The former exist as reminders and motivators to be better human beings, whereas the latter just add some fun to people’s lives and can bring people together for the most weird and wonderful reasons. I think it’s amazing that so many people love doughnuts enough to celebrate it for an entire day!

  2. vsotardi

    Hello all! Hope you are well and having a lovely day.

    I enjoyed this episode, but one of the points I felt circling around in the conversation is about the purpose and intention of food holidays. Such food-focussed days are intended to promote public awareness on a global platform concerning a serious issue (e.g., World Hunger Day). They are usually less tokenistic and are committed to improving lives. Interestingly enough, I don’t necessarily see such initiatives as radically different from other social media trends (remember the ice bucket challenge?) as they all have a common purpose of educating others in various forms and formats. Whether or not the activity itself is daft is subjective, and sometimes the sillier, the further the message will travel. I know nothing about vegan-uary, but I suspect there could be a more serious agenda behind it in terms of promoting the ethical treatment of animals, although I’m not sure.

    Other food holidays are obviously much more whimsical. It’s to have fun, celebrate a wee bit, and share culture and community. It’s arbitrary and meaningless, but who cares, really? If it’s an excuse to eat a damn doughnut, then go for it. I won’t judge!

    Because I’m a complete and total nerd, I did some digging to find out more about the origins of food holidays. It appears as though “National Beer Day” was created in America to celebrate the end of Prohibition as people queued up the night before in readiness for legal alcohol consumption. Meanwhile, Doughnut Day was created by the Salvation Army during the Great Depression to raise money for the volunteers who brought comforts from home (including doughnuts) to the frontlines in WWI.

    At the end of the day, I agree with James in his careful criticism about the sillier kinds of food holidays. Both Baz and James make the point that people will always jump on the wagon to sell more [fill-in-the-blanks]. As James says, these food holidays all share the purpose of having a talking point. Some of these food holidays have meaning behind the message, whereas others are just attempting to share any message.

    Cheers, and looking forward to your thoughts. Valerie

  3. JoRo

    1. Harvest festival – in the UK roots in rural communities to celebrate bringing in the harvest, now for most people, as pointed out it’s collections of food in schools and places of worship for local food banks, which are a lifeline for many people. In many agricultural communities it’s still a celebration of the local harvest as that’s a major source of employment in the area, celebrating a successful harvest is important, some years flooding or drought can ruin entire crops for whole communities.

    2. Did a quick search, so as well as Dry January and Veganuary there is also Ginuary… I was speechless when I saw it, first though, did Ben come up with that one? second thought WHY?!

    3. Agree with James, the random food days, weeks, fortnights or months are for the most part rather meaningless (though they do come in handy when you’ve got a last minute assembly to put together), World Hunger Day, World Fairtrade Week and the like should definitely be promoted more.

    • Bebbrell

      Gin-uary is great! As is Fe-Brewery!
      *Not that we need an excuse.

  4. Annie1962

    Yo Sorted

    Reckon you could bring back the apron? I’d love to buy a Sortedfood Apron. I’m such a messy cook 🙂

  5. Luik

    There’s a café day where I come from. I don’t think it’s a specific weekend, but it’s every year in August. Local people will open up their yards and gardens and offer homemade cakes and snacks etc for sale. Quite often the cafés will have a theme as well, eg I recall one where a whole children’s book was narrated throughout the day. What started off as a one off day to celebrate local love of coffee or something, became so popular that it spans multiple days and other towns have copied the concept so this year, 12 years later, I counted 65 café days across the country. So sometimes a gimmick can turn into a legit thing.

    Another type of food day I wouldn’t mind is if it’s in celebration of a major staple. So eg for me that would be rye bread. Which would give interview shows a reason to interview bread makers on that day and to discuss tradition and new directions and basically keep alive and celebrate something really central to the culture. But other than a few meaningful examples all these food days are just part of the information spam I have to filter out throughout the day.

    This whole thing sparked a memory of this planet money episode about how these national holidays come about in the us: https://www.npr.org/2017/04/19/524654665/its-national-garlic-day-who-is-making-up-these-weird-holidays

    • Bebbrell

      The Café day is a nice idea… a reason to bring a physical community together around food! Much teh same way we all get together regularly digitally.

  6. danielahitstheroad

    I’m sorry, I’m not going to change James’ mind on this because I wholeheartedly agree: Food days can on occasion be fun, but they’re meaningless.
    And every day should be World Hunger Day, because everyday somewhere on this planet people don’t have enough to eat while in other areas food is thrown away for profit, out of lazyness or indifference. If we could distill the concept that lies behind some of these days (like sharing what we have or pointing the finger to absurd marketing practices) into everyday awareness by declaring a month to be the beacon for that, it would be more effective to anker that into people’s minds.
    Instead of mindlessly buying flowers for Valentine’s Day, make February the Flower Month where people are reminded of where the flowers are grown and under what conditions. Not the most thought through example, but you get the point.
    We just wrapped on the world’s largest wine festival in my home town and it celebrates the area, the culture and the ongoing harvest. On the back of it our local group of Foodsavers were collecting surplus food from the stalls and distributing it via App.
    There’s another thing in the area where you can register fruit trees that are not commercially used to pickers for free so they don’t go to waste. Gardeners can bring their surplus to the local food banks or swap within the community.
    I’d want a month of awareness for that.
    Every little bit counts and it sums up in the end, even if it doesn’t seem like a big thing on its own. Your food packs with shopping lists that reduce food waste…. absolutely love them!

  7. Annie1962

    I’m not sure if “National Fish n Chip day” would be welcomed by the business owners seeing as they are uncertain as to whether they need more staff – more staff = more wages to be paid out. Great if it’s well adopted but if not, that’s wages paid for nothing.

    Maybe I’m one of the minority but I find an event here in Australia to be futile and in some aspects hypocritical. WA has a ‘homeless’ day where people of importance or just citizens will sleep outdoors in winter in a sleeping bag and tent to raise awareness of homelessness. They get a warm sleeping bag to sleep in , usually at some building, where coffee vans park to give them a hot coffee etc. They then sleep ‘outdoors’ for a night.Politicians join in- yet afterwards these same politicians don’t do anything about the homeless.
    It’s a day of ‘being seen’ to be doing something.
    Same for ‘world hunger day’.

    Ugh lately I’ve been a miserable bag of cynicism .

    As for Sortedfood to have your own special day – it would have to be say a challenge – for example one member will have to cook a fellow member’s fave food into a dish. eg Mike will have to cook Ben some sort of quiche dish, Barry will have to do something with fried chicken for Mike.. James will have to do something with avo for Barry and so forth! Winner gets to choose a charity to donate to.
    Thank you boys for listening to us viewers (the ones who watch) and changing your seating so we can see you and feel part of your chat. x

    • Bebbrell

      Donations to charities are obviously a great thing… but so many are done for two reasons… the second being to show-off and ‘be seen’ to donate… just as you suggest! Still better than no donations though!

      Also… a little cynicism is healthy… ask James, he recharges his batteries on it 24/7!

  8. Cooperkid

    I honestly think that food holidays should only matter if they have reason to matter


    • Bebbrell

      But what do you define as a reason? One of cultural or historic importance… of nutritional importance… or is it okay just to enjoy naughty food, guilt-free for a day?

  9. nosoytonta

    Definitely I’m on James’ side: unless it is a ‘thing’, that day is worthless. But here’s the thing: it is not worthless if the day is shared by a community.

    My favorite national food day is Chocolate Day. Most people celebrate it on the San Valentine’s Masacre (Feb. 14), but only the selected few know the **actual** Chocolate Day is on Feb.15, in which all chocolate not sold the day before is now half price. If that is not a cause to celebrate, I don’t know what should.

    If I may, I propose creating our own community calendar. Just for fun and because we can create our own thing. Just special occasions, let’s get not crazy, people! Some members of the community are so creative, they would give Eat Pizza Without Anchovies a run for their money.

    Some days should be a given, though: Quiche Day will be celebrated on Ben’s birthday, of course. I’m already wondering which quiche will be suggested for such occasion.

    • SammiJMB

      I love this idea! We could have Avocado Day on Barry’s birthday, Steak Day for Jamie, Fried Chicken for Mike and Bread for James! 🙂

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