As we close in on the end of the decade, we begin to assess what has changed about daily life in the past 10 years; these chunks of time are arbitrary, sure, but they’re great for measuring our evolution or stagnation as a society. Food is one area where changes are sweeping and dramatic, with crossover into broader pop culture: The Greek yogurt boom is not so distant in the rearview mirror. Jokes about Millennials’ avocados are still going strong. I don’t even have to say more than the word “LaCroix” to imply all I need to.
Over on The Guardian, Sirin Kale writes about the rise of medjool dates in the U.K. as they gained a reputation as superfood extraordinaire. In Kale’s Middle Eastern household, dates are a staple of entertaining, served and eaten whole alongside tea. “Now,” she writes, “the whole of the U.K. has gone gaga for them—even if it is more as an ingredient than as a delicious treat in its own right.”
Kale traces the rise of dates as an alternative to refined sugars across the 2010s. Dates are 80% sugar, but their high fiber content means that the sugar is absorbed by the body more gradually than refined sugars. This has gained the fruit a dubious reputation in the U.K. and beyond for being “healthy,” a slippery term that can lead to overconsumption. And overconsumption can lead to its own set of issues: beyond potential health concerns, there are ethical and geopolitical considerations when eating too many dates, because many of them are grown on contested lands.
The whole article is a great read, not only shedding light on the journey of this one fruit to our pantries, but in prompting us to think more about the complex route that all food takes on its way to our table. Plus, with a new decade ahead of us, it might be a good time to stop and think about what we eat and why. Who’s running the show here—your appetite, or a wellness-based marketing team?