The week that was (1 September 2016)

- And so, to the trends. Lethlean wrote an article looking at what we might have learnt with the addition of a few food related questions in the census "... the whole shebang - the shopping, the decision-making, the preparation, the eating. To drill down into the question of how we handle The Evening Meal, as a society, in 2016". Of course, this appeals to me. Imagine! Letho suggests questions such as:

“Who did the actual cooking? Did any member of the household derive pleasure from the process of preparing dinner? Was the meal prepared from a recipe and, if so, what was the source? Did cultural heritage play any part in your choice of meal? What was the cost of the produce that went into the meal? Did you eat at a table or on the couch, together or separately?”

I have long believed we will only take steps towards reducing obesity and managing diet-related disease if we have the sustained backing of the government. While the tv shows are popular, statistically they don't seem to translate into people cooking more. We need to take better food education into schools. We need to teach people how to cook properly (by balancing expensive ingredients with cheaper ingredients for each meal - like nonna did), to use the left-overs, use all the parts of the animal and, perhaps most importantly, to reduce waste. That is where much of the value is lost - if they weren't throwing out 30% of all they bought, food would actually be a lot more affordable. 

With the right information, this could probably be achieved by a government led campaign along the lines of the British wartime Ministry of Food. It was no more than a great advertising/marketing campaign teaching people how to cook. Fresh produce and common sense don't have a marketing budget. 
Bon Appétit took a look at some of the restaurant trends for 2016. I was particularly interested in the khachapuri, a Georgian dish that is described as a cross between pizza and poached eggs, the idea that "suspension is the new sous-vide" (everyone seems to be getting a little Mallman-esque with their chooks these days), and, speaking of the chook, they also looked at its elevation up the fine-dining pecking order (ha!). You can read Pat on that phenomenon locally here.
- Meanwhile, the Guardian took the superfood trend to task. “The truth – so unappealing – is that nutrition is fabulously complex, different for everybody and mostly mysterious. We know that if you eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and do regular exercise, nothing is a superfood. And if you don’t, no superfood will save you.” In other trend news, they are also crediting our great nation with giving Britain the freakshake. We'll call that retribution for the Ashes. 
- This week the SMH also wrote an article on dining trends, specifically looking at the rise of fast casual. The trend of note here is not about food, but the rise and rise of editorial/integrated advertising.

They looked particularly at Sake and heavily quoted Thomas Pash, the CEO of Urban Purveyor Group. At the bottom of the article they noted the article was: “written with the assistance of UPG.” You will remember UPG (with their Bavarian Bier CafésSake and Fratelli Fresh restaurants) were acquired by Quadrant Private Equity last year for $175 mill. According to Simon Thomsen and BI they're on a mission for a $1bill stock market launch in two years. With ambitious targets like that, it's not surprising they’re on a PR/advertising blitz, but I was surprised that the SMH (with their tagline “Independent. Always.”) would think this was appropriate way to flag the relationship. Their ethics guide, under the banner Independence, states “Advertising copy which could be confused for editorial should be marked "special promotion.”

So, I wrote to Good Food and received the response below from a “Fairfax Media spokesperson”:
"UPG is an advertiser with Fairfax. This story was not paid content - but given our relationship with UPG, the disclosure was added to be extra clear with our readers about the insights they provided. Despite this, we accept if we could have been clearer, we should have."
Given the myriad of advertisers Fairfax must have, and the myriad of articles they write, should we now expect to see this caveat on every article that may involve an advertiser with Fairfax?

- Finally, on a whole new topic (not a trend, but maybe it should be), there was a fabulous article on the rise of female-run small village farm unions in Afghanistan: "Over just a few years, they have introduced new vegetables to their humble dinner plates ... The unions, in updating age-old agricultural traditions, have helped ensure a more reliable and diverse food supply in an often famine-struck region. In the process, the women who run the groups are finding new status and empowerment. They are no longer greeted as the mother of Ahmad or the wife of Mahmoud, but rather “union leader Gul Bahar” or “deputy union leader Reza Gul." Interestingly while they have adapted their farming practices very quickly to conform to market demand, these women were also quick to note (and avoid for their own "humble dinner plates") the "compromise that is forced on them: The new potatoes taste different. The new potatoes are now white in the middle and have a great market, but they don’t taste the same,” said Asma, the deputy chief of one union. For her own cooking, she grows the old seeds." Smart play ladies, smart play.