Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Something as seemingly simple as an apple can have big political and economic ramifications. Sarah Dea / The National
Something as seemingly simple as an apple can have big political and economic ramifications. Sarah Dea / The National

Trendspotter: Local food for local people

The last meal you ate: where did it come from? Some people want to simplify the answer to that question. David Mattin explains why.

If I were to ask you where the last item of food that you ate came from, the answer you give would most likely be the name of a business. A megalithic corporate superstore, for example - Waitrose, Walmart or Tesco - or a restaurant or corner shop.

Consider that for a moment. Is there any greater testament to the way capitalism has woven its way through our lives than this? Because, of course, no food really comes from any corporation. Food comes from places on the Earth, with names that can be found on maps. But today, even when we're eating an item of food with only one geographical origin - which is rare enough - we still rarely trouble ourselves to find out where that item of food is from. Where did the last apple you ate grow?

But now, that picture is changing. Among busy urbanites in a diverse range of cities around the world, a desire is forming for a new kind of relationship with the food we eat; one that grounds our consumption of food in a sense of place, and a connection to our local surroundings.

In the UK, Waitrose has launched the first supermarket to be stocked entirely by a single, nearby farm. The 4,000-acre Leckford Estate farm in Hampshire, in the south-east of England, will supply the Waitrose Farm Store with more than 1,000 homegrown products including meats, cheeses, bread, and fruit and vegetables.

Meanwhile, in the US, services such as North Carolina's The Produce Box, which delivers local fruit and vegetables to the door of its subscribers (think Netflix, but for local fruit and veg) are proving increasingly popular. And in Singapore, there's the new Sky Greens vertical farm: the world's first commercial vertical farm, where organic fruit and veg are grown in huge towers. The farm currently supplies Singaporeans with half a tonne of organic vegetables a day.

So what's driving the emergence of a new localism when it comes to food? Well, there's rising awareness about the often insane - and ecologically disastrous - journeys that processed foods can take around the globe before they reach our plate. Tied to that are issues of food safety: the UK was recently rocked by a scandal in which horse meat was found in the ready meals sold by a number of leading supermarkets.

But, at its heart, the local food movement is about more than safety and sustainability (hefty issues though they are). It's about our connection to the places we live in and the food we eat. Urban living in the 21st century has brought us quality of life gains beyond the imagining of our grandparents but it has also alienated us from the fundamental, natural processes that sustain our lives. Now, many of us are keen to claw back some of the distance between us and those processes. We're seeking a new kind of urban life, one that combines the benefit we take for granted with grounding in an authentic connection to our landscape. And that can start - why not? - with eating a locally grown apple.

David Mattin is the lead strategist at trendwatching.com

For more trends go to www.thenational.ae/trends


twitter Follow us @LifeNationalUAE

Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 S*uce store at The Dubai Mall. Courtesy: S*uce

S*uce celebrates 10 years of style

As they celebrate their 10th anniversary, the founders and staff of the made-in-the-UAE boutique S*uce look back at their fashion success story.

 Who did we give five stars to? Mathew Kurian / Ravindranath K / The National

Your guide to the UAE’s best burgers

In search of the perfect burger, The National staff taste-tested the country's many burger joints. Which ones stood out from the pack?

 Sense, A Rosewood Spa offers The Gulf Cure, a 90-minute organic treatment that makes use of the detoxifying and relaxing powers of seaweed. Courtesy Sense Spa

Testing the subtle powers of seaweed at Rosewood Abu Dhabi’s Sense Spa

Add seaweed to your beauty regimen, says Kalpana Ramgopal, after a treatment at Sense, the spa at Rosewood Abu Dhabi leaves her with silken skin.

 The Emperor 1688's Golkar brothers. Courtesy Fashion Forward

The Emperor 1688, Kage and House of Fatam nominated for Woolmark Prize

Three UAE-based brands have been nominated for the International Woolmark Prize: the menswear label The Emperor 1688 and the womenswear brands Kage and House of Fatam.

 Steamed Shrimp Dumplings at Lao restaurant the Waldorf Astoria, Palm Jumeirah. (Courtesy of Waldorf Astoria)

Dim sum to die for at Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah

Waldorf Astoria has made its debut along the Eastern crescent of Palm Jumeirah. Worth a visit for the Dim Sum is Southeastern Asian restaurant Lao. Check out chef’s recipe below and see our slideshow of other top dishes to sample.

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

(serves 10 people)


Prawns 250g

Potato starch 25g

Tapioca starch 25g

Spring onions 20g

Lukewarm water 20ml

Banana leaves 20g

Sesame oil 50ml

Sesame seeds 50g

 Entrance of the Zuma restaurant at DIFC in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

Zuma bans cigar smoking

Zuma, the high-end modern Japanese restaurant concept, has banned cigar smoking in its Dubai location. The move follows the ban on cigar smoking in its bar and lounge areas during lunchtime service that was introduced in April last year and the Dubai Government’s anti-tobacco law that came into force in January.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National