The rant: Every food has its day?
Every day it seems there’s another food commanding attention, respect – and pride of place on our calendars. Do most of them deserve such an honour, though?
Happy World Pasta Day. Have a great National Apple Day. What a great Raisin Week it’s been this year… Can you ever imagine saying anything like that? Of course not – unless you’re secretly a PR for the Italian pasta council or the raisin industry. So why do the bodies that represent various foods insist on trying to cram these made-up days into our already crowded calendars? The concept is tired.
As a food journalist, I receive press releases every day exhorting me to ‘get ready’ for the likes of Pretzel Day (what should those preparations entail, exactly?). It’s a constant irritation. But the day I cracked was during a particularly busy week on a national newspaper, when I was called away from my desk to reception to greet a giant fluffy tomato. (It was Tomato Week, apparently.) I resisted the urge to turn the poor jobbing actor or whoever was inside to purée.
There are so many products competing for their own special day on the calendar that there aren’t enough days to go round – which is why Potato Day exists not once but twice. The West Midlands has one founded by the Potato Council for all UK potatoes, and Cornwall has one just for the enjoyment of Cornish potatoes. Having two such similar events is like a duller version of the movie Groundhog Day.
It doesn’t have to be like this. In principle, having an allocated period to raise awareness of British produce, such as potatoes, can be relevant and purposeful, particularly if it’s for championing culinary traditions that might otherwise be forgotten. National Marmalade Week, which launched in 2012 and starts at the end of February, has never been more necessary in light of the declining sales of Paddington Bear’s favourite treat, as shoppers turn to arriviste toast-toppers such as biscuit-flavoured spreads. It incorporates a worldwide marmalade making competition too, as delicious. reported last month.
Campaigns can also work for international products. The UK’s Fairtrade Fortnight, held each February-March since it launched in 1995, has done a sterling job in alerting consumers to the ever-improving Fairtrade wines, coffee and other produce, which bring fairer prices to farmers in developing countries. The brand’s promotional two-weeker is effective: 78 per cent of the UK public now recognise the Fairtrade mark.
Then there’s Chocolate Week. It’s a slick operation with events UK-wide, culminating in an exhibition at Olympia that draws chocolatiers and growers from the world over.
Where a lot of thought and work have gone into the impact and goals of campaigns, such dates do merit a place on our calendars. But – and I don’t want to get all metaphysical here – simply naming something doesn’t mean it exists. Saying 19 April is National Garlic Day is essentially meaningless.
The media has to take some of the blame. It’s been too easy to fill a gap on a page with a nugget of info and a nice picture, especially when it arrives ready-packaged in your inbox. But enough is enough. It’s time to bring some reason to bear.
Does Chloe’s opinion of these special days annoy you? Or do you agree? Tell us your view at readers@ deliciousmagazine.co.uk and we’ll print the best.