Sunday 31 May 2015

Book ~ "The Tastemakers: Why We're Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue" (2014) David Sax

From Goodreads ~ Tastemaker, n. Anyone with the power to make you eat quinoa.

Kale. Spicy sriracha sauce. Honeycrisp apples. Cupcakes. These days, it seems we are constantly discovering a new food that will make us healthier, happier or even somehow cooler. Chia seeds, after a brief life as a novelty houseplant and I Love the ’80s punchline, are suddenly a superfood. Not long ago, that same distinction was held by pomegranate seeds, açai berries and the fermented drink known as kombucha. So what happened? Did these foods suddenly cease to be healthy a few years ago? And by the way, what exactly is a “superfood” again?

In this eye-opening, witty work of reportage, David Sax uncovers the world of food trends: Where they come from, how they grow, and where they end up. Traveling from the South Carolina rice plot of America’s premier grain guru to Chicago’s gluttonous Baconfest, Sax reveals a world of influence, money and activism that helps decide what goes on your plate. On his journey, he meets entrepreneurs, chefs and even data analysts who have made food trends a mission and a business. "The Tastemakers" is full of entertaining stories and surprising truths about what we eat, how we eat it and why. 

David Sax is a freelance writer specializing in business and food. His writing appears regularly in the New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Saveur, The Grid Toronto, and other publications.

In this book, Sax analyses food trends in three categories:

  1. The four types of trends - cultural, agriculture, chefs and health
  2. How trends break out - sales (the sofi awards), data (the trendwatchers) and marketing
  3. Why food trends matter - ethnic foods, food politics, money and an update on fondue

Sax traveled around North America (including his hometown of Toronto) interviewing chefs, heads of food manufacturing companies, producers of food products, judges in food shows and more to discuss food and trends in food.

I thought it was an interesting topic and book.  I found the history of bacon an interesting chapter.  No one ate bacon then all of a sudden everyone was having bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Then bacon was unhealthy and evil and no one ate it.  Then along came the Atkins Diet where is was okay to have bacon again.  Then the Atkins Diet was discredited and no one ate bacon.  Then the pork industry came up with the "Pork:  the Other White Meat" campaign and people were eating pork again.  All of a sudden, bacon is a condiment on burgers and sandwiches AND we are paying extra for it!

Other chapters that were interesting were how East Indian food has been on the verge of being trendy EVERY year but it never happens; a couple in Ontario who are growing the rare Red Prince apples; reminding me about the healthiness of chia seeds. the food truck revolution, etc.

I liked the writing style.  As a head's up, there is some swearing in some of the interviews.

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