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What The Word On The Street is Reading: The Tastemakers

March 26, 2015

The Tastemakers cover

This week our Event Coordinator, Catherine, picked up a copy of David Sax’s book The Tastemakers, published by McClelland & Stewart. We were pleased to host David Sax at The Word On The Street in 2014.

About the book:

Tastemaker, n. Anyone with the power to make you eat quinoa.

Kale. Spicy sriracha sauce. Honeycrisp apples. Cupcakes. These days, it seems we are constantly discovering a new food that will make us healthier, happier, or even somehow cooler. Chia seeds, after a brief life as a novelty houseplant and I Love the ’80s punchline, are suddenly a superfood. Not long ago, that same distinction was held by pomegranate seeds, açai berries, and the fermented drink known as kombucha. So what happened? Did these foods suddenly cease to be healthy a few years ago? And by the way, what exactly is a “superfood” again?

In this eye-opening, witty work of reportage, David Sax uncovers the world of food trends: Where they come from, how they grow, and where they end up. Traveling from the South Carolina rice plot of America’s premier grain guru to Chicago’s gluttonous Baconfest, Sax reveals a world of influence, money, and activism that helps decide what goes on your plate. On his journey, he meets entrepreneurs, chefs, and even data analysts who have made food trends a mission and a business. The Tastemakers is full of entertaining stories and surprising truths about what we eat, how we eat it, and why.

Q&A with Catherine

What drew you to this book?

“Can I say the cover without sounding shallow? There is a decadent looking chocolate cupcake topped with candied bacon. Oh yes.

Did you enjoy the book?

“I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the book, and more so at how susceptible I am to food trends. I’m pretty sure I sprinkle chia on everything now. I also recently refused to have cupcakes instead of a traditional cake at my wedding. Do I subconsciously think cupcakes are “over”?

David Sax asks very interesting questions in his book, “How did [food trends] start, and who were the tastemakers behind them who took an idea, cultivated it, and changed the way we ate”? I never considered who was behind these fads, but I have definitely been going along with them.

Sax analyses our relationship with food trends and wonders if they are a force for good. Sure, they may be just passing fads driven by The Food Network’s newest celebrity chef, but ultimately we are expanding our tastes. I am glad sushi blew up and is now available in unhealthy quantities. I’m also glad food trends have reached my parents, and they have explored food outside traditional Hispanic dishes.

Would you recommend it?

“I would recommend this book to all you flat white drinkers, gourmet doughnut lovers, macaron connoisseurs, craft beer aficionados, and fish taco fanatics. Eat, drink, and be merry!”