FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Natural vs. unnatural foods
What is natural and what is not? Today’s topic of conversation is food, or rather, food suppliers. Globally. Man is always in search of security and comfort. That is why there is such a growing demand for ‘honest’ and recognisable foods, for foods produced in the local environment. It feels safe. But… what is natural about this? And what is ‘honest’? A head of lettuce with slugs is natural and very ‘honest’, but it does not appeal to most. How safe is the produce from one’s own allotment if it is located in the vicinity of a road network or heavy industry? Everything has its price. Nature too. The rarer a thing is, the more prized it is, and the more it will cost. This is an economic certainty that is as sure as a law of nature.
If the value of something, and therefore its price, rises, then so does the temptation to find, stretch or even cross the boundaries of what is appropriate. From using suggestive counterfeit brands to direct fraud with foods, it happens and it cannot be prevented. Is it new? No, far from it, it is as old as time itself. Food has so many functions, exists in such variety, and has so many expectations attached to it, because what we eat, how we eat it and when we eat it is becoming an increasing part of our lifestyle. Food is emotion, perhaps now more than ever. That, amongst other things, is the subject of this newsletter. Extraordinary practices and clear points of view, opportunities and threats in that wonderful world of interdependence: food production. The past and the present – different methods of food production, leading to different results too. Heavy fare, served up as easily digestible as possible. Tasty! Response?
Read on… Nothing new under the sun…, there is a lot of to do around food, there always has been. An unsettling list. The list of food scandals is too long by definition. We must be able to trust our food, but unfortunately this is not true in all cases or places. Our Belinda Becks, point of contact and anchor for our buyers. The Fruit d’Or method, slightly more longwinded than that of the competition and naturally with good reason… The many supporting roles of food. Can we eat healthily, live longer, lose weight? A Belgian scientist wrote a book about it that became a bestseller. Natural vs. unnatural. Is the distinction as large as we think it is? Taste the future. In Cologne, from 5th – 9th October. Under the spell of seduction: the theme of our next newsletter.
Nothing new under the sun Every person must eat, every day. Our physical and mental condition is strongly governed by it. But food is not always healthy and it is also rather perishable. That is why people have experimented with foods since antiquity. Thousands of years ago people were already adding salt to food to extend its shelf life. Drying and smoking practices too have long histories behind them. Of course none of this happened under particularly controlled conditions. The knowledge of those times did not extend beyond pickled foods and that was preferred above nonpreservable foods. Salt was above suspicion, unlike nowadays when reducing salt intake is the vanguard. Deliberate tampering with the quality of foods or sailing under false colours? That did happen and of course it was in sheer pursuit of profit. In the 14th century the English poet Langland wrote:
‘To punish on pillories and on pining stools Brewers and bakers, butchers and cooks: For these are men on this mold that most harm worketh To the poor people that parcel-meal buy. For they poison the people, privily and often’ Yet the fraudsters could get away with it, because back then analysis and testing methods were almost unheard of. Knowledge was sparse and people often died of uncertain causes. Centuries later, in 1820, the situation had not improved much, but there was more science and with this, better control. Testament to this is an animated manifest written by the chemist Frederick Accum: A Treatise on Adulterations of Food and Culinary Poisons exhibiting the Fraudulent Sophistication of …’ (here follows a lengthy list of products), after which the lengthy title ends with: ‘… and other articles employed in domestic economy and METHODS OF DETECTING THEM.’ In his introduction Accum brought the whole issue into sharp focus with his observation: ‘It would be difficult to mention a single article of food which is not to be met with in an adulterated state; and there are some substances which are scarcely ever to be procured genuine.’ The scientist Harold McGee, source of this information, concludes that the good old days when food was fresh and unadulterated has, in fact, never existed. The current food scandals demonstrate that there is nothing new under the sun. Or is there? Is it more occasional now, whereas in the past it was commonplace to work carelessly? In any case, a breach of food hygiene hits the headlines faster now, and is spread with the speed of light to a larger audience than ever. Our food has likely never been so safe as it is now, but it has also never been scrutinised as closely as it is now. Response?
A worrisome list Throughout Europe horsemeat was sold as beef on a large scale. Lean, muscle-rich, good quality meat, with the only objection that it was not from a cow, but from a horse. Precisely with the current tracking and tracing methods this type of â€˜mistakeâ€™ is easily preventable.
to spend one week exclusively dealing with food fraud, the results of their investigation were telling. Coffee, wine, chocolate, eggs, olive oil and cheese were found not to be in order, and even products such as truffle and caviar were found to have been tampered with.
Baby milk powder became very rare in our area because the Chinese market appeared to be so insatiable that the shelves of European stores were plundered to satisfy the Chinese black market. The Chinese question has arisen as a result of the melamine scandal that claimed the lives of an unknown number of babies.
The most common offence: sailing under false colours. Wrongly using a quality label, producing an incorrect list of ingredients, falsifying the provenance. Fraud pays, and that peopleâ€™s lives are being played with, is no impediment for some parties. Every action has a reaction. Just as Chinese consumers have more faith in baby products of Western origin than from their own soil, so numerous Western consumers have developed a critical mind towards their own buying patterns. This increased awareness does not have to be damaging for producers and suppliers of high quality, safe food. On the contrary! Many food products are, for these and other reasons (see The many supporting roles of food), chosen with more care than ever before. Response?
Yet these are relatively innocent problems. At least when compared with the Spanish olive oil scandal (1981, 500 mortalities, tens of thousands of consumers blighted for life), or the Czech and Indian (methanol) drink scandals which claimed tens and hundreds of lives respectively. Are these occasional incidents? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The recent scandal in India, where school children fell victim to tampering with meals, seems to point to the contrary. Each scandal that hits the headlines is likely no more than the tip of an iceberg. When Interpol and Europol decided some time ago
Our Our Belinda Belinda Becks: Becks: all all for for suppliers suppliers during during the the day; day; free free time time for for horses horses
People can be put in all kinds of categories, but the distinction between those who are chaotic and those who are organised is an important one in the workplace.
king English, German and Spanish. She does not put too much value on her linguistic skills: ‘As long as you want to work it out together, then it practically always does; the intention is the most important thing.’ Chaotic people are creative, fickle, undisciplined True of course, but linguistic talent, combined with and therefore rather unpredictable. That is useful real interest in the other party – these are true asas these behaviours lead to innovations, surprising sets for a service provider. Belinda personifies this. finds and important inventions. ‘If you do it well, then you build trust,’ she concluHowever, to make a lasting success from these ‘cre- des. ative impulses’ requires a different personality type. You reap trust? People who do not allow themselves to be distrac‘Enormously, yes, and that makes it so rewarding.’ ted by ‘surprising ideas’. The stoic, precise workers Belinda Becks is a passionate empathiser who is who draw up a plan and do not stray from it. They blessed with an understanding home front, because are the rocks in the surf of many an organisation. work does not stop when she leaves the office. As a Without them we cannot survive. child of enterprising parents, she knows that thinking Our Belinda Becks is such a person and we are about work never stops. pleased about that, because too many creative perShe arrives at the office early – even earlier during sonalities can make life very unpredictable. busy periods – so she has time at the end of the Belinda handles client contacts and contracts. She afternoon to spend on her other passion: horses. raises purchase orders, keeps track of progress, com- Friesian horses in this case. Beautiful, proud, dark municates in multiple languages (fluent in French) horses. Her life partner breeds them and Belinda and she creates clarity both internally and externally. rides and trains them for dressage. ‘It is good if the mill runs smoothly for the buyers,’ This too is a full life, because aside from the labour she says. intensive breeding, training and maintaining of the Her contribution to this is no small one, for example horses, there are shows, clinics and competitions by taking a closer interest in the buyers: ‘Each enboth at home and abroad. Belinda does it all with quiry must first be thoroughly read, interpreted. If heart and soul, because she detests half finished something is unclear: ask.’ work. Her biggest problem: lack of time – not And look at the websites of associates, because: enough hours in the day. ‘They teach you a lot.’ Belinda Becks, the reliable link between your desires She is fluent in French, having lived in France for a and our ability to realise them. year and a half, but she is also comfortable speaResponse?
The Fruit d’Or method (and why it produces a better quality product): dried cranberries of top quality Perhaps it is not an iron law but we think it is a good idea to stay as close to nature as possible when processing natural products. Our Canadian partner Fruit d’Or shares our point of view. That is why they process all cranberries (their speciality) immediately after the harvest. First the berries are carefully washed before they are very gradually frozen in large quantities at a time. The berries that are harvested in the autumn are kept dormant until at least January. From that month the further processing of the cranberries is commenced. Berries live, breathe, use oxygen. If that process is abruptly stopped by freezing, then small ice crystals form that largely leave the cell membranes and walls of the fruit intact. However that is not the intention; the white flesh of the fruit should mix with pigments, antioxidants and flavonoids that occur in or around the skin. The nutritional value of the skin readily moves to the centre of the fruit. First they are cleaned after which they are carefully graded on size and colour using state of the art laser equipment. Next, they are carefully defrosted. Once done, a small amount of juice is extracted from the berries. This is done in order to initiate the infusion process and to create room, so that the berry can better absorb the sweetener (natural apple juice or dissolved cane sugar) added to the subsequent infusion bath. The sweetener also acts as a natural preservative. Once nourished, the berries can start their actual desiccation process. The extracted juice is pasteurised and bottled. Fruit d’Or uses the whole berry, accepts differences in colour tones and also that the cranberries are not completely pitted by this method. The seeds (approx. 1mm) are however rich in healthy omega-3, so this is not necessarily a negative. On the contrary. The skins of the seeds are for example added to protein shakes for elite sportspeople. The end result of the Fruit d’Or method is a pure, natural product that is honest and flavoursome. What makes the Fruit d’Or method different from that of the most other suppliers? They also freeze their berries, but they skip the complicated processes that ensure that Fruit d’Or’s desiccated products are always made of the whole berry. Most other suppliers press all of the juice out of the berries. The juice is processed to a concentrate. A small amount of the concentrate is added back to the cranberry during the infusion process. This results in a dried cranberry of a different quality – one with a uniform flavour and colour. And our cranberry puree? That is the product of the cold pressing, just like superior olive oils. Fruit d’Or does not take the easy option; its processing methods too are as natural as possible. The philosophy behind this is that connoisseurs and fans will recognise superior quality. Response?
Natural vs. unnatural This newsletter is about naturalness and that is juxtaposed with unnaturalness. But can the distinction actually be made? Is the current generation of cows unnatural because they are far descendants of the ancient ox, which was after all a very different beast? Our tomato is descended from a poisonous fruit. Practically none of the fruits known now would be recognised as such by Adam and Eve. The process of fermentation was discovered thousands of years ago as a method of preserving food for longer. When nomads settled in a fixed place, it was not long before they began selectively cultivating crops and breeding animals. Now there is strong societal resistance against genetic manipulation of foods. Berrico’s products too are GM-free. However, if our ancestors had been opposed to all kinds of methods of crossing and improving animals and crops, then there would undoubtedly be more hunger in the world today than there already is. Food has become big business. Biotechnology and genetic modification are the preserve of global corporations that are able to invest vast amounts in methods that must be earned back with ample interest. The increasing world population will cause many of those involved to be less critical towards any solution that is able to push food production to greater heights. At the other end of the spectrum there will be a growing market of critical consumers with a different idea of what is natural and healthy. In the end, every form of food is fuel and building material. We transform food into body. In the words of the English poet Walter de la Mare: ‘It’s a very odd thing As odd as odd can be That whatever Miss T. eats Turns into Miss T.’ That is why the modern consumer pays so much attention to food. It is an essential part of what we are. Response?
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TA S T E T H E F U T U R E
TASTE THE FUTURE
10 specialized trade shows under one roof Cologne, 5 – 9. 10. 2013
Taste the future? From 5-9 October 2013 this is possible at the global Anuga Fair in Cologne. The Anuga is an international meeting point par excellence. At the 2011 Fair the 6743 (!) exhibitors were visited by a total of 155,000 people. Fortunately the exhibitors and visitors had plenty of space – 284,000 m2 to be precise. With so many participants, of course Berrico does not miss such an opportunity to strengthen and extend personal contacts and potentially make new ones. Of course we are incredibly busy during those days. If you would like to be assured of time to speak with one of us and have our undivided attention? Make an advance appointment with the person you wish to speak with, and we will reserve time for you.
The many supporting roles of food Food is essentially fuel. We eat in order to gain energy. In order to survive and, once that condition is met, to grow. So: fuel and building materials. Once this essential need appears to be met, another mechanism kicks in: other demands are made of foods – for example their flavour and digestibility initially. But that is not all, certainly not nowadays. Food is increasingly viewed as a source of health. We consider food to be an evil (sugar makes one fat), but other foods are considered to aid digestion, prevent serious illnesses, promote weight loss. Young Belgian scientist Kris Verburgh penned De Voedselzandloper (The Food Hourglass), a pop-science book about nutrition. It appeared in 2012 and has already had some thirty reprints!
For Anuga exhibitors only
We look forward to meeting you, but we want to give you the attention that you deserve! So: make an appointment. Taste the future in Cologne: come and be inspired, meet industry peers and spend a couple of days immersed in a sea of possibilities in the field of food products and technology.
You can find us at the Anuga in Hall 11.2, stand C028, as always with Fruit d’Or in the Canadian pavilion. To make an appointment: please send us an email with your preferred day and time and we will get back to you. If not at the Anuga, we may see you at the Food Ingredients Fair in Frankfurt from 19-21 November, in Hall 9, E39-3-A. There too, we will be ready to meet you. Response?
And that for a book that dishes up countless chemical formulae and initiates the reader in numerous chemical processes. In other words, it is not exactly light reading. Yet it is a bestseller that demonstrates once more how engaged a large audience is with the subject of food. In his book Verburgh quotes several scientific studies, each of which clearly demonstrates the extent to which eating patterns influence our health. Not just our weight, but also our kidneys, liver, heart, intestines and even brain can be improved or threatened by the consumption of certain food or drink. Verburgh reveals himself to be a particularly fervent advocate of green and white tea, oats, broccoli and... fruit, in particular berries. He also makes a passionate case for foods rich in fibre. He does not mind pressed fruits, as long as the fibres are spared. On page 5 you can read how Fruit d’Or achieves just that. Kris Verburgh is a certified opponent of too many products to name: pasta, potatoes, bread, and almost all forms of dairy... Naturally Verburgh is a somewhat selective consumer, as is everyone. Almost unavoidably, there will be scientists who wish to disprove this author, for we are far from settled on the many supporting roles of food. Hippocrates recognised the influence of food on health, but a book such as this does raise the question why the average doctor does not pay more attention to the eating patterns and habits of their patients if their effects are as significant as Verburgh claims. Or should some foods be dispensed as a medicine, on prescription? Where does the role of food end and that of medicine begin? It is confusing. Fortunately almost all scholars agree that berries – blue and red more than any others – fit into any diet and that they promote our wellbeing. Response?
In de ban van de verleiding
Under the spell of seduction Berrico’s next newsletter is all about seduction, an art that has been known for a long time. In nature some flowers tempt honey- and bumblebees with alluring aromas and colours. Once in the calyx, sometimes the insects search in vain for the reward of nectar. The plant has committed an innocent, but effective fraud. Some carnivorous plants lure insects with intoxicating, sweet smelling promises, but instead of being rewarded, the insect is trapped and digested.
Both are tempting, alluring, inviting and therefore attractive. But turn it around: a soft, furry apple or a smooth, hard peach? Would you dare sink your teeth into that? Seduction is a game of expectations and promises, largely not rationally determined. Does that mean that we are ruled by our subconscious? Not necessarily, but acting rationally is not a habit that we devote ourselves to on a daily basis. The apple and the peach: two fruits, each with their Seduction is a question of perception, of expectatiown ‘packaging’ that evokes its own perceptions. ons. More about this, about seduction, presentation, pacA silky soft, furry peach has a tempting baby skin that kaging and much more in our next newsletter. causes us to salivate. A smooth, blushing apple inspi- Response? res us too. Mentally we can already hear the crunch of the first bite...
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