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OPINION: Time to get real about food

In May, kitchens and communities around the World took part in Food Revolution Day to celebrate everything that is great about real food. Based on the belief that we all need to get back to basics, Food Revolution Day is a response to and a rebellion against a food industry dominated by over-processing and an obsession with speed and convenience.

The whole message of Food Revolution Day is for us to get real – to rediscover and embrace the source, the taste, the scent and the sight of real food. It is an attitude that gets Pearlfisher’s full support.

Driven by the Jamie Oliver Foundation, this global initiative seeks to return us to real food and natural goodness. It is a chance to reconnect communities, markets, businesses and schools with a love for food whilst aiming to inspire and educate children who have grown up surrounded by the intense messaging and artificial imaging.

A quick glance at supermarket shelves and we have to ask ourselves – when did we become so distanced from food? When did it all become so complex?

We have reached a point where we are separated from our food by too many layers of packaging, methods of preservation, artificial and simulated images and illustrations. Rather than show the natural beauty of what we eat, technology has increasingly created a disconnected world, where even natural fruit, dairy and wheat products have become over produced, stylised and synthetic.

Instead of engaging our children with the taste and textures of food, we distract them with cartoon characters and multi-coloured designs. Rather than embracing seasonal produce, global manufacture and transport networks mean that we can eat food from anywhere in the world at any time of year. Similarly, rather than hero our food and its natural beauty, technology has often created barriers and misrepresentation, making even natural food brands look synthetic and fake.

There is, however, a change – a growing rebellion against this disjointed relationship and a return to everything that is good, wholesome and fun about fresh and natural foods.

Insightful brands and events such as Food Revolution Day herald a shift from the fake to the real, a movement that reconnects us with food in positive ways and searches for real and natural tastes.

We see brands rejecting the artificial illustrations and overdesigned packaging of the past to instead celebrate the visual aesthetics and vibrancy of natural food.

The Swedish smoothie brand, Froosh is inspired by the beautiful bright colours of fruit, whilst the Waitrose Love Life range is designed around the natural palate of shapes and textures we see in fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. 

The family-run Spanish brand Fruita Blanch produces organic juices, jams and preserved goods and choose to hero the beauty of their food with clear transparent packaging and clean design. Meanwhile, Jovial, Duchy Original and Seeds of Change all signal a return to the goodness of cultivation, harvest and the seasons with their pasta, flour, oatcake and organic chocolate products.

We welcome this shift back to real food that we can more meaningfully involve in our everyday lives, experiences and expressions, and the pivotal role that branding and packaging plays in developing those connections. The community events that involve everyone, vocal individual ambassadors and the creativity of visionary brands are going beneath the surface exchanges, instant solutions and artificial aesthetics of manufactured products, in order to rediscover an understanding, appreciation and a love of food and the joy of eating.

Vive le revolution!

About the author: Darren Foley is managing director at Pearlfisher, a leading design agency in London.

Hear more from Pearlfisher’s Insight Director, Sophie Maxwell, talk about this topic: