Taste of PlaceApril 23, 2003 Amuse bouche Agenda Review and Introductions Trubek Course Terroir and the European Model Wasserman Course Taste, Place and U.S. Food Systems Plat Terroir de Fromage Plate Terroir de Zin’ Question and Answer
The Taste of Place Flavor, Value and the Place Where Food is Grown Arlin S. Wasserman Food and Society Conference The Woodlands, Texas April 23, 2003
Does Taste Matter? Yes! • Soil, climate, sun and slope all affect taste. • Arugula, lettuce and bok choy taste different in Cuba and in Vancouver
Providing information about where a crop is grown can add value and increase price. • Better knowledge about nutritional content for animal feed. • Able to fine tune additives, temperature and time in industrial cooking operations. • Less flavors and fragrances to hit “spot on” taste in large batches.
It’s the Nature - Nurture Debate And Again, There’s no clear winner
People Like Small and Local Stuff …if it’s unique • Libraries • Art Museums • Theater • Symphony • …why not food and flavor?
Local & Unique is different than “Local is Better” • You can’t grow this anywhere else!!! • It’s about flavor, not just energy and environment. • We’ll ship it to you!!!
Shoppers Pay More… Cline Zinfandels
Small Growers Also Can Tap Several Markets Different People Value Food Differently Airmail cherries to restaurants across the country A good, but small, market
Different markets + different information + different prices = More Profit Two ways to sell 100 lbs of Leelanau County cherries
Crop Diversification • On the Landscape • Of the Economy • In the Marketplace • On the Table
Fresh, Unique Tastes Mean • Less sugar and salt. • Less frying and oils. • Fewer condiments.
What will it take?A New Business Model is part of the solution • Identify and cultivate diverse crops that all evoke unique local taste. • Commit to local identity and quality. • Utilize the national distribution system • Private and public programs to protect the “taste of place.” • Don’t scale up…scarce is good.
Tastein the Food “Chain” Research Farming Processing Fertilizer/Pesticide Manufacturers • All About Service to Growers and Customers • Maintaining product identity • Protecting unique flavor is key • Product goes with grower not negotiante • Serves as an interface for a single product to reach diverse markets • Crops that evoke unique flavor • Create a diverse array of plants that grow differently in unique locations • Research into native plants • Search for biochemical diversity • Trying to create unique flavor, • Not a uniform crop • Market for assortment of unique, small scale products • Opportunities to collaborate with other farmers to • collectively increase value of production • Planting more indigenous • Fewer Chemical Inputs • More extensive product development • …locally appropriate pesticides and fertilizers
Tastein the Food “Chain” Direct to Consumer High value farm market National top dollar gourmet Distribution (Regional) High quality foods to local institutions without high distribution costs Profit in local processing over storage distribution High value and quality to local retail High value to restaurants (opinion leaders) Research Farming Processing Fertilizer/Pesticide Manufacturers Distribution (National) National companies have a role doing what they do best: order fulfillment Top dollar paid for a portion of local “standard fare” One high quality product can raise all boats Links to economic development, tourism Top dollar for diverse products, not commodities All but distribution captured in local economy Can’t scale up, or it all disappears
Tastein the Food “Chain” Unique Taste = Reason to maintain local farms Diverse Flavor = Easy to replicate business venture Intense Flavors = Healthier diets, small portions Research Farming Processing Distribution Fertilizer/Pesticide Manufacturers High prices = Shared commitment to Quality National Support = Vibrant Local Food System Happy Tongues!!!
Why? Because its replicable, not scalable. • Preserve diverse local food systems. • Make it up on margin, not volume. • Opposite of commodity response to scale up in reaction to abundance or scarcity. • Promote local crop and diet diversity. • Models that don’t scale up provide more benefit to the local economy. • It’s about taste, not regulation and science.
What would it take? Changes in federal, state, local and private systems…but profitable ones!!! • Federal and state incentives for crop diversification. • Research into local, indigenous varieties and flavors. • State, local and private arrangements to ensure local quality and character. • Farmers cooperating to create “local identity.” • National companies profit from distribution expertise. • Acknowledging its alright to pay a lot for food. • Businesses that selling the same stuff to different people for different prices rather than specializing or customizing
Arlin S. Wasserman firstname.lastname@example.org www.foodandsocietyfellows.org (231) 271-3683 Photo Credits Arlin Wasserman Cortney Miller, Thomas Jefferson Institute Monsanto Corporation - Media Relations Patrick Owen, Michigan Land Use Institute US Department of Agriculture