terroir 2.0: rethinking the taste of place

Photo by  Casey Feehan

Photo by Casey Feehan

"Terroir’s etymological roots literally hail from the earth (“la terre” in French), implying that soil is somehow involved in the flavor-making process. In the case of plants, this connection is obvious; with animals and their by-products, it suggests a second-degree grazing on local herbs, fruits, nuts or grasses. With time and the official codification of regional food products, the notion of terroir has also expanded to include the influence of human savoir-faire (literally, “know how”), developed over centuries of producing such gourmet goods...

Yet in today’s world, we are no longer required to travel to the source in search of this “taste of place.” Cooks who prefer the rich flavors of Bresse chicken, Parmigiano cheese or Carolina golden rice can now have those products shipped anywhere in the world. In fact, the original intention of terroir seems to have been tipped on its head, as the very notion of these delicacies’ superiority and specificity has bred an increased consumption and exportation of these products—separate from any sense of seasonality, biodiversity, sustainability, or other locavore virtues."