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FringeStream: Food


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This month in our ongoing FringeStream series, our monthly magazine exploring how the fringes of culture are shaping mass behaviors, we're digging into the a topic that tempts us all: FOOD. In gaining an understanding of FringeStream Food, we've unearthed some interesting findings that recognize how the simultaneous celebration of food culture and turmoil of traditional food systems have led to mainstream confusion over what to eat. Find out how empowered groups are moving beyond our over reliance on over-processed convenience food to create new opportunities and an increasing Appetite for Conviction.

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FringeStream: Food

  1. 1. Appetite For Conviction thesoundhq.comFOOD
  2. 2. THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 2 FRINGESTREAM: FOOD Welcome to our Fringestream series, our monthly magazine exploring how the fringes of culture are shaping mass behaviors. What happens when fragmentation, diversity and the choice to live differently becomes the new normal? This month we explore FringeStream Food, which recognizes the simultaneous celebration of food culture and turmoil of traditional food systems. Our aim is to help think beyond the diminishing appetite for convenience and over-processing– to see the opportunities empowered groups are creating for food of the future.
  4. 4. THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 4 FOOD MATTERS… to our Identity, Biology, and Culture FOOD CELEBRATION While love of food is nothing new, today we’re verging on obsession. Today’s celebration of food culture is not only about eating. We are voracious spectators, critics and reviewers, as well as makers and growers. We also can’t get enough of food as entertainment - from food documentaries on Netflix to Hell’s Kitchen. Celebrity chefs have a following on social media that rival the biggest rock stars. “Food today has an emotional or psychological power we cannot shake” 
 –Michael Pollan What is it?
  5. 5. In sobering headlines, obesity and diabetes are being called food-related epidemics… Many Boomers and Gen X have handed off meal preparation to the food industry because they are ‘too busy’ to cook… Globalization gives us mind-boggling choices of what to eat… Middle and upper income consumers are buying fresh, local food and supporting smaller, sustainable brands… ...but when “Butter is Back!” but “Bacon Causes Cancer,” knowing what’s ‘good food’ is more confusing than ever. ...but they now lack the skills to prepare a meal or teach their kids how to cook. 
 ...but we’ve dumbed down ‘kid food’ to the most banal and narrow set of options. …but lower income households have to choose between buying healthy food and going hungry. THE FOOD PARADOX THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 5 MASS CONFUSION in the Biggest Industry in the World What is it?
  6. 6. THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 6 …FRINGE CONVICTION New Ways of Eating But if you look closely, groups on the Fringe are demonstrating absolute conviction about new ways of eating. Read on and we’ll explore the wild and wonderful, the complex and controversial food revolution through our Five Fringe Trends. While some of these examples may address multiple trends, they all exhibit a commitment to doing things differently for the benefit of self, family, community, animals, the planet...and perhaps all of the above. “The outlook for the center of the store [where processed food is stocked] is so glum that industry insiders have begun to refer to that space as the morgue.” 
  7. 7. MEATY QUESTIONS One of the biggest fringe movements is a shift to plant-based alternatives. Whether part time Vegetarian or full time Vegan, people are questioning the impact of animal agriculture on their bodies and the environment, and reducing the amount of animal based food they eat. APPETITE FOR ABUNDANCE Given dire global water shortages, a growing group is replacing the resource-intensive food in their diet with foods in abundance, such as insects and seaweed. The nori seaweed snack category is growing by about thirty per cent each year, with sales for 2014 as high as $500 million. Look for dulse and kelp next. INTO THE WILD Some are willing to take even more extreme measures to reduce reliance on ‘Big Food’ by foraging or learning to hunt for their own food. Exotic, rare foods such as wild mushrooms, nettles, heritage fruit, and game continue to attract. “This could be our revolution: To love what is plentiful as much as what’s scarce.” –Alice Walker  “If I could buy kelp futures, I would.” –Paul Greenberg, who has written extensively about the collapse of fish stocks THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 7 RUNNING LOW People are looking to New Plentiful Food Sources that don’t rely on the Industrial Food ‘Grid’ Off the Grid
  8. 8. THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 8 RUNNING LOW HAMPTON CREEK Plant-based Alternatives Hampton Creek is working on plant-based alternatives to pasta, ice cream, ranch dressing and other food, and mixing up the FDA’s world of “mayo” in a big way. They recently secured $90 million in investor funding. OCEAN’S HALO 
 SEAWEED SNACKS The gateway to ‘ocean vegetables’ is sold in 
 the chip section of whole foods. “Seaweed’s very mainstream now…Well, mainstream in Brooklyn.” New Yorker Magazine 2015 EAT WILD Ethical Hunting Classes EatWild’s mission is to provide a community to the growing number of people who are interested in eating wild, organic, and ethical foods. EatWild represents the modern food movement: slow food and healthy, ethically “sourced” meat. Off the Grid
 A RECONNECT The double-edged sword of tech has left us more connected to others yet somehow further apart. We know more about our world than ever before, yet struggle to make and keep meaningful relationships within it. People are drawing from other cultures that foster a more collectivist approach to food. BRINGING STRANGERS
 TOGETHER On a local scale, community based farmers’ markets foster relationships between growers and local buyers, and restaurants are creating communal tables for shared dining experiences. On a global scale, companies like Feastly connect chefs with food enthusiasts and diners everywhere. USING FOOD
 FOR GOOD As choices multiply, people increasingly choose to purchase foods that do good for others as well as themselves. THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 9 Far from Just a Necessity, food is serving as a Catalyst to Connect and Empathize with Others in Authentic and Meaningful Ways “The sharing of a meal–and therefore, other than of food, also of affections, of stories, of events–is a fundamental experience” –Pope Francis, 2015 Positive Collectivism ONE BIG TABLE
  10. 10. "The rest of the world seems to be slowly waking up to what Danes have been wise to for generations - that having a relaxed, cosy time with friends and family, often with coffee, cake or beer, can be good for the soul… Hygge isn't just a middle-class thing. Absolutely everyone's at it from my dustbin man to the mayor"- Helen Russell, The Year of Living Danishly DANISH ‘HYGGE’ Creating Cozy Shared Meals for Happiness A Danish tradition of sharing time together, with a sense of ‘pause’ from life, over coffee, cake, or beer, is now resonating in cultures outside of Denmark. FOODSHARE IPHONE APP ‘Eat a meal, Donate a Meal’ Users can go to partnered restaurants and take a picture of their food. For each meal photographed, a meal is donated to someone in need. DOLMIO Tech-free Family Meals Dolmio created a pepper grinder that powers down Wifi and electronic devices, allowing families to reconnect over dinner time, free from distractions. THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 10 ONE TWIST SHUTS DOWN TVS, WiFi & MOBILE DEVICES Positive Collectivism ONE BIG TABLE
  11. 11. “Cooking is cool, even for boys, now. My cooking camps are sold out, and 60% are boys” –David Robertson, Dirty Apron Cooking School “The fact that doctors are now learning to cook [at medical school] is like a revolution,” –Sam Kass, a former White House chef and senior nutrition policy advisor KIDS AS TEACHERS While older generations have let go of all but a handful of cooking competencies, kids today (a.k.a. Gen Edge) have strong values leading them back to the kitchen - ingenuity, creativity, self-reliance. Combined with increasing priority on food education by not-for-profits and EU governments, kids are more likely to be the ones showing older generations how it’s done. FOODIE FATHERS Today, fathers are increasingly defining their status by their culinary ability (beyond the barbecue) and taking on greater responsibility in teaching their kids to cook. BOOMER MEDICINE While Boomers drove the rise of convenience foods in the ’70-80s, some are returning to scratch cooking for their health. Medical students in the US are being taught to cook by chefs, to help advise aging patients to use food as medicine. THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 11 LOOK WHO’S COOKING NOW! Most of the mainstream still seems to believe if you have time to cook, you must be a loser. But on the fringe, barriers to cooking are breaking down Fallout Families
  12. 12. FOOD AT SCHOOL In North America, food education for kids is gaining momentum through non-profits such as The Edible Schoolyard Project, Fresh Roots, and Growing Chefs, leveraging chef networks to teach kids to grow and cook their own food. Europe is farther ahead, as schools in the UK implemented a new national curriculum for cookery as part of the country’s effort to improve children’s diets. FOOD AS MEDICINE At Cook Culture Cooking School in Vancouver, Canada, the most popular class by far with those in their 60s is Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer. DADS THAT COOK Cooking Show for and from Dads As a dad and the primary cook for his family, Jason Glover launched a TV series with Kickstarter funding to share his firsthand kitchen experiences with other dads. The show features self-taught dads from around the US and abroad. THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 12 LOOK WHO’S COOKING NOW! Fallout Families
  13. 13. In our secular societies, food serves as a form of religious or cultural identity for fringe cultures, whereby beliefs go beyond scientific proof of benefits or even visible markers of health. Some Vegans believe that eating a plant-based diet purifies the soul and reduces negative feelings in themselves and violence in society. ‘Fermentos’ fervently believe in the power of live gut bacteria for physical and mental health, and in the centuries-old traditions of eating fermented food rich in ‘good bacteria.’ HOW WE EAT MATTERS, TOO As digital connectivity becomes increasingly pervasive every moment of our lives, food experiences such as ‘wifi free cafes’ and ‘solo dining restaurants’ are emerging to enforce moments of solitude and reflection. FRINGESTREAM: FOOD THE SOUND 13 WANT OHM WITH THAT? Fringe Groups are Finding Personal and Spiritual Guidance through Food Modern Spirituality "I don’t eat meat because meat brings out negative qualities such as fear, anger, anxiety, aggressiveness, etc.” –Carlos Santana, Musician Beyonce and her rapper husband Jay-Z went vegan for 22 days as part of a "spiritual and physical cleanse.” –Vanessa Barford, BBC News Magazine "There is a true correlation between our food choices and violence in the world.” –Peter Burwash, Davis Cup Winner
  14. 14. LIVE CULTURE FOODS Probiotic Believers ‘Fermentos’ maintain that our culture needs to revive fermented foods and the value of prebiotic and probiotic bacteria in our diet, in the form of kraut, miso, kefir, kombucha and kimchi. This evangelism may be medically founded, as some researchers are coming to the startling conclusion we need MORE exposure to bacteria to be healthy. ‘BE HERE NOW’ BOOK OF 
 EASTERN PHILOSOPHY Ram Dass In his book, Dass explains the Vegan belief that an animal experiences high levels of anxiety and fear when it dies, raising testosterone and adrenaline levels. Accordingly, when people eat animal meat, we intake these negative energies, obstructing us from listening to our spirit. EENMAAL The World’s First ‘Solo Dining’ Experience This ingenious pop-up restaurant helps people reclaim their lunch break and disconnect completely from social and mental noise. FRINGESTREAM: FOOD THE SOUND 14 WANT OHM WITH THAT? “I look forward to encouraging Londoners to reassess their routine, taking a moment to disconnect from our hyper connected society and enjoy the ‘now’ that is vital to our wellbeing.” Marina Van Goor Modern Spirituality
  15. 15. “Farmers and eaters will collaborate with modern plant breeders to create new varieties of grains and vegetables to thrive in their regions.” 
 –Dan Barber, executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and author of The Third Plate. L IS FOR LOCAVORE Farm to Table restaurants and local produce are increasingly becoming the choice to reduce the negative environmental impact of globalized food and transportation systems. While it means there are fewer food options, especially in winter, this ‘challenge’ is celebrated by fringe cultures as a way to combat the “Omnivore’s Dilemma” - what to eat when you CAN eat almost anything. GREEN THUMBS
 GOING GANGBUSTERS Fuelled by community garden support, urban- specific gardening tools, and apps to manage garden maintenance, growing your own food garden may not be fringe for long. FOOD WASTE The makers of Just Eat It, a documentary about food waste, pledged to survive for a year only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away. Knowing 1/3 of all human food is wasted, while a billion people go hungry, is generating a fringe revolution. THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 15 YIMBY (YES IN MY BACK YARD) Fringe Groups are Happily Narrowing Their Set of Choices to Local and Seasonal Less is More
  16. 16. MY GREEN SPACE My Green Space is an app that makes it possible for anyone to grow their own food garden and avoid 80% of mistakes made by first-time and early growers. You’ll notice there is no ‘garden’ in the name – every home can grow food, regardless of the type of space. SAINSBURY’S FOOD 
 RESCUE APP The UK grocery chain has created an interactive new mobile tool which fuses the latest mobile voice recognition technology with recipe inspiration to offer practical help to cut down on food waste. Users input up to nine ingredients and the app presents recipe inspiration. FARM TO TABLE RESTAURANTS After years of importing ingredients from all over the world, chefs are going back to basics and staying local. The goal is to limit human impact on the environment - less flying, driving, and fuel consumption - and get fresher ingredients. It’s now a movement in both Europe and North America. Daylesford Farms, a Farm-to-Fork restaurant, now has 5 locations in London.   THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD 16 YIMBY (YES IN MY BACK YARD) Less is More
  18. 18. 18THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD TIME TO GET OVER BELLY FAT AND ON TO BIGGER PROBLEMS Together, these trends collectively represent a shift from an individualistic focus on food’s taste, convenience, and ‘slimming benefits.’ On the fringes is a greater consciousness of food systems, food security, and the macro impact food has on our health, culture, and the planet. FringeStream Food presents challenges and opportunities in areas such as food laws and technology, as well as branding and innovation. FOOD LAWS TECHNOLOGY BOLD BRANDS
  19. 19. 19THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD THE FRINGE CALLS FOR FOOD ADVOCACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS Societal Implications THE IMPACT OF FRINGE FOOD WILL DEPEND ON POLITICAL WILL. Food activists like Jamie Oliver are starting to influence not just fringe groups but also governments. Jamie’s campaign to get food education on the G20 Summit agenda has gained global traction and his Food Revolution Day petition calling for compulsory food education for every child at school generated 1.6 million signatures. A SUGAR TAX, in place in Mexico since 2013 to help combat rampant diabetes, has been proposed in both the UK and North America. But experts agree more serious advocacy and political engagement is needed if change is to happen at federal levels.
  20. 20. BRING ON ROBO CHEF. Smart Kitchen technologies are rapidly evolving to remove some of the barriers to scratch cooking for the mainstream, especially time constraints, and are targeted at tech savvy Millennials. With most already cooking with a mobile or tablet, we predict Millennial Dual Income No Kids (or DINKs), with their high disposable incomes, may be early adopters of technologies such as smart ovens with precision heat sensors and 20THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD NEW SMART KITCHENS WILL REMOVE BARRIERS TO HOME COOKING cameras (already on the market). 3D food printers such as Foodini will make time intensive recipes, such as ravioli, easy. For hipster home-brewers, there is PicoBrew Zymatic, a fully-automatic, Wi-Fi enabled craft beer brewing appliance that can brew a beer in four hours. Food brands have the opportunity to partner with tech companies to help create momentum for a tech-enabled home cooking movement. Technology Implications
  21. 21. 21THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD SURVIVAL OF THE RICHEST One of the biggest opportunities for brands is to address food inequality. Low and middle income families may be the slowest to adopt FringeFood trends, given the (perceived) higher cost of new alternative ways of cooking and eating. Brands can help prevent the ‘two-class’ food system experts darkly foresee by supporting organizations that build food growing, cooking and food waste reduction skills for lower income and at-risk people. Opportunity also exists for brands that can find a way to create less processed choices with naturally abundant ingredients that are offered at price parity with today’s cheap packaged goods proliferation. Funding provided to Chicago farmers’ markets allows food stamp holders to benefit from a double dollar matching program, making local, healthy food accessible without putting farmers in the red. “Unless there are big changes 
 within the next 20 years, I foresee a two- class food system. One class will eat industrialized food produced as cheaply as possible at the expense of its workers and natural resources. The other will enjoy home gardens and locally and sustainably produced food, at greater cost.” –Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, 
 food studies, and public health at 
 New York University But, what does it all mean?
  22. 22. 22THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD BRANDS NEED TO BE BOLD Few mainstream brands have been brave enough to address the fringe trends changing the nature of our relationship with food from individualist to more systems-focused. Consider taking inspiration from these examples to be the change ‘FringeFoodies’ are calling for. #REALSCHOOLFOOD Litehouse Dressing To create an improved ranch dressing, the number one flavor sold in schools, Litehouse and Chef Ann Foundation crafted a New Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing that has no MSG, no high fructose corn syrup, and no preservatives. The ranch is Gluten-Free Certified, is made with Greek yogurt, and contains no sugar.
 Litehouse will Donate 1% of sales of the product to the Chef Ann Foundation, whose mission is to provide healthier lunch options in schools for children. DOUGH-NATION Panera Bread Like most cafes, Panera Bread serves fresh baked goods to its customers daily, meaning all unsold items need to be discarded at closing time. Rather than toss perfectly edible bagels, breads and desserts into the trash, Panera Bread sends these items to local nonprofits — as it has done since its inception. Through the company’s Day-End Dough-Nation program, Panera bakery-cafes donate approximately $100 million worth of unsold bread and baked goods every year. JAMIE OLIVER LINE Sobeys As an advocate for change and a promoter of better food internationally, Canadian grocery retailer Sobeys has engaged Jamie Oliver to champion enhanced food knowledge and cooking skills for Canadians. Sobeys also sells a line of Jamie Oliver branded products that includes pasta, olive olive, seasonings, and meats. Brand and Advertising Implications
  23. 23. 23THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD ANSWER THE CALL With experts predicting the mainstream is just going to getting ‘lazier, fatter, and sicker,’ the opportunity space for brands to 
 tap into these counter culture food trends in 2016 is wide open. We get how scary these big changes might seem...but what’s scarier is that the time for small changes, like removing artificial coloring or flavors, may have passed. In our FringeSteam Series, we like to say ‘The Mainstream is Dead’ to be provocative...but in the case of food it’s closer to the truth. Who will dare to answer the call from the fringes? Get in touch at for more information or 
 a presentation! “Not enough is happening on the fringes of food.” – Jed Grieve, Owner, Cook Culture 
 store & cooking school Brand and Advertising Implications
  24. 24. V A N C O U V E R | N E W Y O R K | L O N D O N | T O R O N T O | C H I C A G O | M U M B A I W W W . T H E S O U N D H Q . C O M
  25. 25. SOURCE REFERENCES 25THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD SLIDE SITE 4 Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Michael Pollan, 2013 5 7 9 11 13 Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Michael Pollan, 2013 15 19 20 21
  26. 26. IMAGE REFERENCES 26THE SOUND FRINGESTREAM: FOOD SLIDE SITE 1 4 5 8 10 12 14 16 19 20 21 22 23 24