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Food Snobbery

The whole of our food culture is riddled with snobbery and irrational distinctions that need challenging!

Take greensPeople buy rocket, capers & chicory (Mediterranean roadside weeds) while carefully removing home-grown weeds from their gardens. 
And Cavalo Nero is gourmet fare, but cabbage & turnips..?

Take pulsesWe grow quantities of them in the UK, but they mostly end up feeding animals or going abroad. Few Londoners eat mushy peas, but we consume vast quantities of humous. Yet peas are the nourishing superfood that sustained English common folk for centuries.

So how did it come about that home-grown peasant fare is despised, but foreign peasant food is gourmet and glamorous? It probably evolved like this:
  • survive on local pulses/weeds
  • get richer
  • abandon ‘peasant’ food & its associations of poverty
  • get richer 
  • go abroad on holiday
  • come back with a taste for foreign peasant food...
If we just brought back the recipes it would be great, but importing the ingredients too is crazy. Just seen as a cultural anomaly, it’s pretty amusing. But as an environmental issue it’s a missed opportunity to help create a resilient local food industry: A gourmet salad of UK-grown wild leaves with cider vinegar has far fewer foodmiles  than imported leaves dressed with lemon juice. And humous or dhal made with UK-grown yellow split peas taste as good as those made with imported chickpeas and lentils.

So now we recognise the problem, the solution is easy!
  • Let's give our home-grown leaves and pulses the respect they deserve.
  • Let’s celebrate and enjoy our locavore-ish diet. 
  • Let’s cook creatively and import culinary ideas, but adapt them to our home-grown ingredients.

  • Weeds are getting glamorous already, with the current renaissance of foraging & wild food. Marrowfat peas have got a bit of catching up to do.
  • Contempt for the familiar isn't just an English phenomenon, I’ve met Andalucians who were incredulous that foreigners would pay money for the rocket that grows freely on their mountains. And others who consider chestnuts and olives to be famine foods.