Changing what we consider edible


adapted from Dirks 2021

Some chefs design their menus and inventory control systems to use almost everything.  But it means changing the menu all the time to reflect what's available and what can be made with leftover ingredients.

The parts of plants and animals we consume in Canada has been narrowing, and this is contributing to food waste.  Perhaps 10% of food waste is deemed potentially edible.  Why it isn't eaten is cultural and economic. It is also linked to food skills and deskilling by the food industry. Convenience as deskilling.  Many edible parts never get to the consumer, removed during processing, or trimmed in the field or at retail, in part for cosmetic reasons, in part to accommodate long distance and long duration supply lines in which leafy green parts of plants go bad quickly. That many stores no longer have butchers can mean many parts of the animal never even get to the store. Parts of the animal many no longer eat.  It doesn't serve food retailers to have more of the plant and animal consumed because we can only eat so much.  We eat less of what we have and we have to go back to the store.

Link to shift to sustainable diets, social marketing. Chefs as social influencers, showing how to use parts to make interesting things. Or community whole plant recipes.  Lots of opportunities in direct marketing and self-provisioning situations, small independent shops.  More challenging through the dominant system.

edible insects - Rotz et al on crickets

WIRED reports  the value of the global edible insect market will reach $4.63 billion by 2027, with the North American market the fastest-growing sector.

Hartman Group - Food & Technology: From Plant-Based to Lab-Grown report found that 27% of consumers were interested (as of 2019) in purchasing insect protein, and an additional 11% were open to doing so.

Weeds as food

Spiritual practice often defines what is edible, often deeply historical and cultural and rooted in issues of safety, purity and resource management (and not always effectively given what we now understand).  These restrictions persist even though at least partly unhitched from their historical context.  In turn, such restrictions have affected how different groups settled and interacted with each other and their environments historically (cf. Douglas, 1997; Harris, 1997).