June 27, 2016

27/06/2016: The best of both worlds

by Christophe Pelletier

First published in Milling and Grain, May 2016

Several years ago, one of the first presentations I made had the title “Back to the Future or Forward to the Past?” To this day, I still wonder which direction we are heading.

The past is everywhere it seems. On the consumers’ side, there is a growing desire for food and farming like they believe it was made in the past. Call it authentic, natural, and old-fashioned or any other name that appeals to consumers, many people certainly have the past in mind when they make their food choices.

This nostalgia of things that never really were, as I call it, is not a new phenomenon. It comes in cycles and it is more a reflection and a reaction of a general malaise about how the present world is perceived. Of course, at the same time, consumers expect a level of food safety that today’s technology offers.

They would not want to buy the same old food borne diseases. They want the best of both worlds; it is a fair expectation. We long for what we fear is about to be lost Sometimes we want to part with the past and embrace novelty and progress, sometimes we long for what we fear is about to be lost.

The further away from the equilibrium the pendulum goes, the harder it swings back in the other direction, and often it swings back too far. The polarisation of the debate on food and farming is just another expression of the magnitude of the pendulum swings. The back and forth between future and past is not just in consumers markets, though.

There is hardly any week without some research paper on farming by some university “rediscovering” what our forefathers knew from experience about sustainability and preserving resources, although back then the science was not advanced enough to explain what they knew.

Read the full article in Milling and Grain HERE.     

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