What is Progress?
Updated: May 21, 2020
Hello our Future Fit Foods Feathered Friends,
Welcome back to the Future Fit Foods (FFF) blog. This week we invite you to join our conversation on the Future of Food, where we are starting a dialog with the FFF community about what ‘progress’ means in the world of food and eating.
During our global road trip last year exploring foodways, we visited a multiplicity of food markets across the globe from Namibia to Mongolia. While visiting Kathmandu, Nepal, we spent hours walking the maze of streets absorbing the vibrant colors and smells from the food stalls around us watching the interaction and more-than-transactional relationships between buyers and sellers. There was an instant awakening of the senses that demanded our full attention. In the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu’s daily markets, we had become participants in the colorful dance between people and food. We stopped in many of the stalls to get a closer look at what appeared to be newer foods. And in the universal language of signs, proud vendors would invite us to taste their foods and share morsels of their story with us. On one occasion, we stopped at a stall displaying perfectly piled rocks of many colors which turned out to be salt rocks from the Himalayas. We learned there was such a thing as Himalayan black salt which the locals call ‘black gold’. It tasted like boiled eggs.
We were delighted to come across vendors who found simple and natural ways to package their foods, like the tempeh ladies in one of the markets in West Papua or the pineapple vendors in the Mekong Delta floating market. We appreciated the ingenuity of the vendors enabling convenience and stability through simple, natural and locally available packaging. We also felt at ease buying from these sellers as we knew their natural wrappers would easily decompose and not pollute their rivers and neighborhoods.
Yes, we enjoyed conversing with the vendors and soaking up their stories made of what we could see, hear, smell and taste. During our trip to Bhutan, we stayed at a homestay and cooked and dined with a local family discussing their foodways and culture. We paid close attention to their cultural rituals around cooking, serving and eating. All their dishes were made from scratch with mostly local ingredients which were nutrient dense. Like in so many other Asian countries, the abundance and diversity of vegetables, grains and fruits used in daily cooking blew our minds. These beautiful food experiences during our travels validated for us that in life the simplest pleasures of sharing food with others are often the moments that bring the most joy to us.
Most of the food in the open markets were available in bulk, similar to what we would find in our farmers’ markets or co-op's in the West, but we also observed that some of the stall vendors were already transitioning to packaged foods. While we understand that modern packaging has helped extend the food life of many foods and in that way it has also helped reduce food waste, we must admit that it was painful to see this transition because we knew where so many of those single use plastic wrappers and utensils would likely end up; we had seen them too many times in their adjacent river, beaches and streets. The evidence that these developing societies were moving to a world of food wrapped in disposable plastic packaging nearly bringing tears to our eyes. We paused and it made us question. Is this progress? Is this what we aspire to?
Today, as we build the foundations for Future Fit Foods inviting your ideas, we return to that critical question: what is progress? How do we make sure that the new food solutions we create post COVID19 feel like we are making progress for our health, the planet and humanity?
At Future Fit Foods we believe that progress will come when we put the wellbeing of people and planet at the center of our business model including sourcing, production and delivery decisions. Also when we measure how our own food value chain is having a positive impact on the health of people and the planet. What world do we want to be part of?
And to you, our FFF community, what does ‘progress’ mean to you in food? What three things that most important to you? What would you like to see Future Fit Foods doing to be a part of change in the industry? Please let us know.
Paloma and Sean