‘Who are ya and where do ya come from?’ It’s not just a cheesy intro line from an 80s game show, it’s the first thoughts we have about people when we first meet them. We’re desperate to know their backstory, to try and understand them a bit better, to find out what we have in common (or not) and what sort of relationship we could build with them.
The same goes for our food. Arguably, we care more about what our food is and where it comes from than we do about strangers – the difference being that the food we eat goes straight in to our digestive system (unlike strangers, hopefully.) Saying that, we’d be pretty surprised if a guest at the same cocktail party as you introduced himself as a rugged, healthy British man raised in the Surrey country side and then turned out to be an anaemic Romanian horse, right?
Indeed, ever since the Lasagneigh (#horsegate) scandal, it seems we Brits have never cared more about the provenance of our food. Provenance, from the French ‘provenir’ meaning ‘arise from’ or ‘origin’ is the who are ya and where do ya come from of our food. Brands bang on about it, customers scour FAQs and About Pages for it, scrutinising the backs of packets to squeeze out every last detail about exactly where their nosh has come from.
So what? Why does it matter where our food comes from?
Sit back, relax and let Eatupp explain the importance of provenance (it’s even more important than being earnest, although don’t be dissuaded from reading carefully!)
Our obsession with provenance is all about traceability. We want to be able to pinpoint the exact origin of our food so we can work out if it is the best possible quality of that ingredient or product that we can be consuming. Let’s take meat as an example. We all love animals, right? We want the animals to be happy and have a healthy, wholesome life. That’s why we love all the grass-fed, free-range, organic meat that you can get for just the tiniest extra £1 more in the supermarket. Maybe knowing that the steak on your plate was once the happiest cow there ever was eases that tiny voice of guilt, or maybe knowing that the cow was the healthiest cow in the field reassures you that this fine cut of meat will give you the energy and the best nutrients. Whatever the reason, animal welfare plays a massive part in our desire to know the provenance of our food.
Following on from that, and reflecting once again on our Romanian equine friends, we want our food to be authentic. We want it to be what we think it is. We want our pizza to be stone-baked in a pizza oven by an Italian man called Luigi and we want our cheese to be handmade by a little woman in Devon called Doreen. We seek authenticity and artisan food because that food is produced and created with love and passion – all the best food is. We want our food to be in its purest, finest form, and understanding provenance gives us the information we need to choose authentic produce.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings us on to the source of our obsession with provenance. We are seeking out massive amounts of information; facts, figures, statistics. Maps & photographs whipped out, phone calls and emails to find out where our food is coming from. It’s all about collecting information and streamlining it. We need information on our food because once we’re equipped with knowledge we can use it to make informed decisions.
Ah. The root of provenance. We want to know that we have control over what we are eating (we’re all control freaks, really), the power to make better, more informed choices.
So there you have it – the importance of provenance. Keep an eye on our website over the next few weeks where we’ll be updating dish descriptions and adding new information so you know exactly where your breakfast or lunch has come from to get to you.