I wish you all could see the look on my mom’s face during our most recent trip to Whole Foods. She picked up an advertised “new and noteworthy” promoted item, a package of ground beef. “Lean, grass-fed, organic, farm-to-table?” she read with a laugh, “Like that’s new?”
Those foodie buzzwords describe the lifestyle her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother had experienced before her. Basically, the farm-to-table hype trending through our nation’s health food stores is new, but Americans have been enjoying cage-free organic goodness for generations.
This got me wondering what other overpriced and overhyped food trends were simply regurgitated cultural norms. Here are the origins of some of our most recent foodie favorites.
Dripping with umami (always load up on soy sauce and toasted sesame seed oil), poke bowls have stolen our hearts with their fresh and seriously satisfying flavors. While the dish has been an island staple for decades, the popularity of the dish spiked in 1970’s, as mainlanders got their first taste of the sushi-grade scrumptiousness.
Top it with avocado or scoop it up with perfectly crisp wonton chips, just don’t forget to thank our Hawaiian ancestors for creating the ideal appetizer. Can we make BYOB (bring your own bowl) a thing this year?
2. Fermented foods
Centuries before we realized the benefits of probiotics and microbes, the love of fermented foods can be traced back to the Neolithic way of preservation. Korean kimchi, Indian chutneys, German sauerkraut, West African garri, Vietnamese mám, Chinese douchi, Lao pa daek, Korean banchan; let’s just say our world has been fermenting for a while now.
With kimchi burgers popping up everywhere, we can enjoy these treats while paying tribute to our elders.
3. Portable Wine
From wine kegs, juice boxes, and the classiest, wine in a can, our generations are truly getting more creative on how to move their booze. Okay, maybe historically our cultures didn’t box their liquor in cardboard containers and served them with straws. But the ancient Greeks stored wine in amphorae and Jesus brought jars of it to dinners, so we can just celebrate in this next evolutionary step for mankind.
4. Veggies on Veggies
Cavemen may have relied on meat, but the majority of our ancestors decided to go green. From ancient Greece to Hindu dietary laws, mankind has maintained plant-based diets for pretty much ever. With meat-based controversies running rampant through social media, vegan and vegetarian diets are trending.
In denial? Restaurants like San Francisco’s Al’s Place and Brooklyn’s Semilla serve meat as side dishes on their menus, focusing on veggies as the star of the dishes, and have still landed spots of Bon Appetit’s Top 10 Restaurant List of 2015.
5. “Ancient” Grains
Sorghum, teff, millet, quinoa, and amaranth – we cannot get enough of these healthy grains. Whether you throw them into a winter stew or your morning oatmeal, the boost of energy they provide is food crush-worthy.
Our ancestors thought so too. The grain’s ability to thrive over centuries is credited to their survival with low levels of necessary pesticides, which also reduces our current CO2 emissions. Go grains.
6. Açaí Bowls
With the invention of household freezers, the use of frozen açaí pulp made its way from people of the Amazon up to more industrialized cities of Brazil. Professional surfers and aspiring fitness gurus fell in love with the sweet stuff. Immediately, the pros promoted the nutrient-rich blend to Hawaii and Southern California in the 2000’s, where it’s been enjoyed for almost two decades.
With so many different recipes, açaí bowls are the perfect breakfast food (for eating and for Instagramming). So eat up, because these lusciously thick smoothies are delicious, nutritious, and have truly stood the test of time.