Peruvian cleanse or Dutch designed food?

I promised my buddy Chris Miller to write something about my diarrhea in Peru when I visited him last month in the Sacred Valley in Peru. It started of as a little joke, but as I was thinking about what I could write about it. There kind of developed a little story.

As a lot of people visiting the Sacred Valley area I had diarrhea within a couple of days being there. Chris called this the Peruvian Cleanse meaning that I had to get rid of some parasites and allowing my stomach to say good bye to my Dutch processed food diet and let him (my stomach) get used to the local diet.

As Chris works for the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development, where they focus on malnutrition projects in local communities, the food topic popped up often. The taste of the freshly and local produced vegetables and fruits is amazing in the Sacred Valley. And yeah I got the diarrhea, but that was not from the produce itself but had to do with the way it has been washed or prepared.

The shapes of the fruits and veggies differ in Calca, that’s why you often pay per grams or kilos instead of per amount, which mostly happens in the Netherlands nowadays.

When I am back in the Netherlands after a trip like this I am always shocked with the way our food in the Dutch supermarkets look like. Our vegetables and fruits look designed and are engineered for efficiency, looks and transportation. And indeed at first sight they look nice in the shelves in the supermarket because they all have the same shape and sizes. But one thing is lacking big time! And that is the taste. All the over engineered cultivation of the seeds and crops made the vegetables and fruits lose their taste. And above all to me taste & texture are the more important then looks.

It feels like at least in the Netherlands we design taste out of our food for a big chunk. We made fresh food and vegetable into processed food. My friend Jorge Rodriguez from DesignThinkers Group Spain said to me: “It looks like canned food without the can” Which I think is an interesting way to say we industrialised our fresh food.

We (the Dutch) have brilliant people working in the agriculture and food industry, which makes the Netherlands one of the global leaders in this area. But maybe we use these skills in the wrong way? Could we use those skills to design a more permaculture way of growing our fruit and vegetables? Learn from the Inca’s in Peru for example and use our technical knowledge to design an agricultural system that brings taste back into our kitchen and meals. And help the Inca’s with a more hygienic way of preparing their really tasty food. So food design for taste instead of making it only beautiful and efficient.

For me it’s taste first and shape second. And I’ll take that Peruvian Cleanse for granted! Food is basically the same as love. At the end it’s the inside that counts!

Author: Jeroen Spoelstra
Featured image: Jeroen Spoelstra










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