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S7 E7 –Should we do more to protect foods that go out of fashion?

A recent report showed that Millennials and younger generations are shunning tinned foods such as tuna; so as much as some foods ‘trend,’ they can swiftly go ‘out of fashion’ too.
Should more be done to change back tastes and keep onto traditional food items? Or is it ok to let popular culture run free and shift demands?

Best soundbite: “Now I’m comparing fig rolls to the great barrier reef”- Barry Taylor.

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12 Comments

  1. Anita

    I have mixed feelings about this topic (as I do about nearly everything else 😀 ) As I’m getting older I’m beginning to value the old ways 🙂 I grew up in a house with a nice veggie garden nearby, a couple of cows, pigs, a bunch of chickens, ducks, fresh eggs, fresh produce, and meat. This lasted until my granny was able to work around the house. These memories are so precious. I’d love to go back to that way of living – or something similar. When we return to Hungary, we’d love to start raising heritage breeds like the Hungarian grey or Racka (although raising animals for meat is another source of inner conflict for me, but this is the topic of the next episode), heirloom plants, deli meat, and cheese-making. It’s so romantic that you can, in a way, establish a connection with your ancestors through eating something they ate, isn’t it? (I know, it’s not the same, ingredients are altered, kitchen equipment invented, etc.)

    At the same time, when I started an elimination diet, I was totally fine with making goulash with plantains instead of potatoes. And I think it is the right time to confess that, around that time, I also corrupted bubble and squeak with green plantains and I loved it! (After watching Baz making some in one of your older videos, I felt like trying this. Having never eaten it before, I had no expectations. To be honest, I still prefer this plantain version to the potato one, you should definitely give it a try if you want to be a little naughty :D) Not that potatoes will ever go out of fashion, though… I just learned to be flexible instead of dwelling on why I cannot have a truly unadulterated experience. And I think this is what happens on a larger scale, too. We, as a society, adapt, take advantage of new opportunities, leave things that we think are not worth sticking to behind (I remember when my mom – like everyone else in the neighborhood – started using sunflower oil in stews instead of lard because it was thought to be the healthier option. Now, she’s back to lard.) I think we cannot deny change and stop time, I agree with Baz, it is the stories, the evoked feelings, and having something to go back to (since the new way does not always turn out to be the better way) that really count.

  2. I think that there will always be people who are passionate about “old fashioned” foods and food eaten in bygone eras. Thankfully we live in an age where they can share their passion with the world. There are Youtube channels like James Townsend who does 18th and early 19th-century cooking. English Heritage, I’m sure you’re familiar with. There are even blogs on food that the ancient Romans ate. Seriously, you wouldn’t think there would be so many blogs on Roman food but there are. Tavola Mediterranea is a favorite. I probably won’t ever make any of the recipes but I absolutely love reading it and learning.

    And I think that there will always be an audience for it because humans are obsessed with food. We’ve always gathered around food, shared it, and swapped recipes. It’s now become a form of entertainment. Mukbangs are a big thing on Youtube.

    On the topic of tinned food- did you know that in Japan there’s actually a bar/restaurant that only offers tinned foods called Mr. Kanso?

  3. I think that there will always be people who are passionate about “old fashioned” foods and food eaten in bygone eras. Thankfully we live in an age where they can share their passion with the world. There are Youtube channels like James Townsend who does 18th and early 19th-century cooking and English heritage. There are even blogs on ancient Roman food. Seriously, you wouldn’t think there would be so many blogs on Roman food but there are. Tavola Mediterranea is a favorite. I probably won’t ever make any of the recipes but I absolutely love reading it and learning.

    And I think that there will always be an audience for it because humans are obsessed with food. We’ve always gathered around food, shared it, and swapped recipes. It’s now become a form of entertainment. Mukbangs are a big thing on Youtube.

    On the topic of spam- I love it. Especially the teriyaki spam. I love salty and fatty food. I first had a spam musubi in highschool when a good friend of mine who’s Hawaiian gave me some. It was delicious. I’m curious though as to why people say ‘boo’ to certain foods. Before that I

    • Oh cripes I accidentally double posted. Sorry everyone.

  4. This topic really hits home (although in a much smaller scale). Food and cooking is a huge part of my family’s tradition and most women (and some men 😊) from the generations before me seem to have a sixth sense-like instinct when it comes to cooking. My generation is a completely different story -we don’t spend nearly as much time cooking, so a lot of the knowledge, that has been passed down until now is in danger of being forgotten. I’ve made a goal for myself to try preserve as much of my family’s old recipes and cooking techniques as possible, but that has been challenging since it’s more about understanding food through sight and touch than just cataloging recipes.

  5. alm477

    …I mean, historical cookbooks are a thing that exist. There are libraries/archives that contain vast collections of old or ancient cookbooks/recipes (some of them centuries old!). There are translations of recipes from ancient Rome that you can get in this day and age and make for yourself–I had a professor that, when he was a grad student, inflicted a Roman honey cake on the faculty–I say inflicted because, made with a lot of lard and barley, very little honey, and no real leavening agent, it tasted horrible to modern taste buds and had a painfully dense texture. “Like a brick” was his description–all his professor could get out after trying it was “it’s…so horrible. Why would you do this [to us]?”. There are bloggers and youtube channels who are partially dedicated to recreating these kinds of foods/recipes (English Heritage runs a popular one with Victorian food specific to an English manor house). It became niche for a while to find terrifying American recipes from the 1950s-1960s and recreate them (molded salad made of lemon jello, canned tuna and mayo anyone?). Food history is interesting and there is definitely a market for that or these books/blogs/articles/channels wouldn’t exist (I say as someone who thoroughly enjoys and frequently consumes this type of content).

    Regarding things like pickling/preserving/etc going out of fashion, it’s coming back as far as I can see. Usually called Homesteading, it’s becoming popular in some semi-rural and even suburban areas to keep large food gardens and sometimes even chickens and/or bees. Of course if you produce a lot of produce, you are then left to figure out what to do with it all. There’s only so much you can give away or donate…

    There are definitely foods here in Pennsylvania that are falling out of fashion. Scrapple (cornmeal+”all of the pig but the oink” made into a loaf, often sliced thin, fried and served with maple syrup) is something I’ve always thought of as “grandparent food” (the same way in English there are names you would just associate with someone over 70, because the name’s fallen out of fashion too). My mom says it was something her parents enjoyed (though I’ve never seen it served at their house), mom never brought it into our house and I have no particular interest in trying it (not something I’m likely to enjoy, frankly). You can still get it in some grocery stores here, but if it disappeared tomorrow I would not shed a tear over it. It’s a Thing That Exists, but not something I’m likely to find enjoyable (though I might feel sad for those who enjoyed it and now can’t get it/have to make it from scratch). There are other foods like that (Pennsylvanian style chicken and waffles for example) that have a generational stratification where (as far as I can tell) the younger set are shunning. Mind you, there are plenty of traditional foods that I enjoy that I’d be sad to see disappear and there is a curious sort of excitement/recognition when I meet someone who unexpectedly understands something about food I’m used to. I had an absolute bonding moment with a coworker who was also familiar with “pot pie” that’s actually a soup. I also don’t see this completely disappearing, as a lot of traditional Pennsylvanian food is Pennsylvanian Dutch and the Amish and Mennonite communities preserve it (though they too are not without innovation, I saw CHOCOLATE shoofly pie at an Amish dinner and while hardly traditional I REALLY want to try it next time).

    We have a “family” recipe that I just learned was the result of a fad–apparently pistachio pudding was VERY trendy in the 60’s (I think? 60’s-70’s) in the US and for a while it was EVERYWHERE. We have a (corporate, I’m almost certain) recipe for pistachio pie that my family loves and makes every summer. I would be devastated if the company that makes the pudding mix it uses stopped making it!

    Having seed archives is something I really like–from a genetic diversity angle and from a “hey…this is also interesting” angle. And Barry, you will not be free of bananas even if (when) the Cavendish banana is killed off. A bananapocalypse has happened before and monoculture just switched to a new breed of banana. Incidentally, that’s why banana-flavored things tend not to taste like actual bananas–the flavoring is based on the Gros Michel banana, which is largely unavailable in the west since the 1960s.

    …what is social media except storytelling? I mean, not all platforms lend themselves that way, at least not easily, but some of them do.

    (I don’t mean to always leave monstrously long comments, it just Happens, sorry.)

  6. tatja

    There is a section of UNESCO that deals with intangible heritage. They collect different cultular “landmarks”(like traditional music instruments, dances, different practices that are woven into the tradion of that society) that are speciffic for a particular part of the world/country, foods included! So maybe that can be a way to preserve most unique traditional foods from all over the planet!
    Great chat as usual!

    • Sorted

      Wow! That’s so good to know that somethings actually in place!

  7. danielahitstheroad

    I was muttering ‘food arks’ to the screen for the first 20 minutes or so 😁. They are utterly important not only for a worst case scenario but also for having the genetic diversity on our hands if a monocultural crop fails through disease (there are dozens of bananas tasting better than Cavendish) or a type of meat goes out of fashion/certain types of animals are better adapted to changing climates.
    Here in my area in the Palatinate some pig breeders have gone back to old races like ‘Schwäbisch-Hällisches Landschwein’ because it has a more marbled meat and tastes a hell of a lot better than the lean races that got fashionable in the 80s/90s but were a lot more prone to diseases, hence antibiotics and other stuff ending up in our food.
    Farmers start breeding cattle like the red highland cow again as they are low maintenance and good for both milk and meat.
    We can only avoid having hatchlings shredded when we breed chicken that are both good for eggs and meat.
    Arks are vital in preserving that variety for future generations
    Do I think that specific foods going out of fashion should be preserved? If a product is good, it will stick around and eventually will make a comeback. What is maybe more in danger is certain specific skills that go with the product in the general populace. A co-worker (32) was utterly baffled to learn that overwhipped cream will produce butter.
    So what I’d really love to see from you guys is showcasing skills that were once basic knowledge on a farm; you’ve already sort of covered making butter, bread, beer, kefir, jam, sausages yourself but I’d like to see more of that. Going out to learn from skilled people and then transform the knowledge for city dwellers living in a foodie bubble. 😊

  8. Annie1962

    Tinned tuna in olive oil.. YES. Most companies have made tinned tuna more interesting by adding tomato sauce, herbs etc for use on sandwiches or as Baz says, in pasta. yum.
    Corned beef – depends on the brand
    Tinned corn – YES – hush your mouth Mike! You hate glorious cheese so you don’t qualify to have a say 😉
    Spam – only if you coat it in flour, fry until the outside is totally crispened up.

    I don’t think foods like tinned corn and tuna will ever go ‘out of fashion’ because fashion ebbs and flows like the tides and companies tend to adapt their products to coincide with these changes. Even with ‘health’ needs like gluten free – nearly every processed food available has a gluten free option.

    Vegemite is an Aussie icon (which will NEVER go out of fashion) and over the years, it’s been played around with and included in some snacks to broaden its appeal. I absolutely love Vegemite flavoured crackers! It’s also being included in upscale recipes and used in marinades.

    Sales might go down with these tinned icons and old fashioned dishes BUT , they always will return and become trendy again.

    A topic for you to please discuss, could be;

    ‘Are people adopting cheaper cuts of meat and using offal more due to the economy?”

    • Sorted

      Thanks for that suggestion! That’s a great one.

    • Anita

      In Hungary, we eat offal and cheaper cuts traditionally so I like dishes featuring those. But now, even in countries like the US where organ meat is frequently frowned upon, people who are dealing with certain chronic diseases are starting to eat cheaper cuts (of properly raised animals) and organ meat for health reasons (nutrient density and good fat content) in addition to their lower cost 😉

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