Everything that matters in our culture must eventually manifest itself at table.
Here are some of things that have been happening in the period 1994-2004.
Farmers markets: from 1,755 to 3,137
Organic farms: from 4,050 to 11,998
Cooking schools: from 338 to 930
Wine imported: from $1.0b to $3.2b
Dry pasta: from $1.66b to $1.98
Olive oil (tons): from 115,000 to 190,000
Viewers Food Netwk: from 7 m. to 79 m.
In the words of Darrell Corti:
Ten years ago, to eat sushi you had to go to specialized restaurants and even in big cities youd find only a few. Today sushi is an industrial commodity. (87)
We have also seen the emergence of the celebrity chef with a mainstream profile.
More tomorrow on the cultural significance of this change.
Andrews, Colman. 2004. Ten Years of Cooking and Eating in America, 1994-2004. Saveur Magazine, 10th Anniversary Special. October 2004, pp. 87, 94.
A similar growth rate appears in the wine business, as more small wineries are able to find a profitable niche to thrive in (although it’s a luxury good, so the market isn’t as stable as it is for staple goods). The Niagara Peninsula seems to be adding a new winery every month lately, and Prince Edward County has gone from two to eight wineries just in the last year or so.
You won’t earn a fortune running a winery or a vineyard, but there’s enough demand for non-mass market wine that it’s not just a modern day “folly” for the wealthy.
It is lovely to be living here just as we reach the third stage of galactic civilization. 🙂
I don’t have statistics at hand, but I believe the production and sale of craft-brewed beer, as well as the hobby of homebrewing, have also exploded over the same time period. According the the guy that runs my local hombrewing shop, they’re getting an average of one new customer every day, which is pretty astounding for any sort of “hobby shop”.
Micro-breweries are actually the canonical case for niche partitioning theory. See especially the work of Glenn Carroll’s “Specialist Strategy” in the California Management Review. The basic argument is that after prohibition, economies of scale led to oligopoly which by the late 70s in turn led to an opening for boutique brews for those people who like things other than weak lagers. The theory is generalized to hold that when an industry is dominated by a few oligopolists (“generalists”) this provides an opening for small boutique producers (“specialists”). Of course sometimes the oligopolists try to capture these boutique products as well, but that’s a whole other story.