Provenance: The Latest Trend in Fashionable Nutrition

It’s hard to keep up with all the nutrition and wellness trends, which are often a kind of revolving door of re-discovered knowledge, typically repackaged and presented in a more contemporary language—like when bell bottoms came back as fit-and-flare jeans.

Thanks to the addition of rigorous and tireless scientific research, we even have some evidence-based information to apply to our new diets, which is probably why prescription speed got debunked as a weight loss panacea, leaving an entire nation of anorexics to begin vacationing in Mexico.

Among the hottest ideas coming to online ads and headlines near you this year will be brand-new-recycled concepts like: eat less sugar, eat more fat, drink more water, and eat real food. But by far my favorite is not a science-based, calorie-specific, macro-restricted plan guaranteed to solve your particular set of health issues. Rather, it’s the increasing interest in food provenance.

The word provenance comes from the French word, which comes from the Latin combination of words pro (forth) and venire (come). It means the original, or the original presentation of, or the original manifestation of food. Americans are beginning to ask important questions about where their food comes from. There was a time, after the industrial and chemical revolutions, when Americans were romanced by convenience and crackers. Now we have diabetes, heart disease, and a conscience, and we’re starting to ask what impact our diets have beyond our waistlines.

 For example: Did that cow have a good life? Are those grains ancient? Was this cassava root blessed by a shaman?

Aside from the hope that we’ll all have better karma if we give a damn about what we eat, food provenance also asks bigger questions about the original uses of foods. One might argue it also inspires us to think about the love and effort that went into handcrafting this artisan stinging nettle tea, which can later be used as a poultice for arthritic knees.

While it might seem comfortable to be blissfully unaware of where your nourishment comes from, the argument for being a pretentious purchaser of produce is a valid one. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? This applies to your person (will you need cholesterol medication and insulin injections by the age of 60?). And also to the planet (do your BBQ ribs contribute to global warming and deforestation?)

With every question we ask at a restaurant, every café we visit, every ingredient we buy, we are faced with the opportunity to make a conscious choice for our health, the health of our community, and the health of the planet. If you add all your meals up, that is about 21 times a week you can rest in the knowledge that you are contributing to a better world.

Take your grocery and produce bags to the store. Don’t buy stuff with lots of packaging. Choose locally grown and raised. And maybe even start growing some of your own herbs in a kitchen window.

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