Brown Food

Here it is the jolly ho ho time of year and I’m thinking about tinsel and pork pies, when into my inbox comes the Food Ingredients First weekly newsletter. They’re excited because brown food just got better.

Food Ingredients First got my attention a few years back because, I thought (then), they’re like me, they put ingredients in the front of the line, too. Cute, but hardly. They’re a food marketing behemoth, a world of food scientists, food technologists, statisticians, and marketers who analyse ‘the consumer’. That’s you and me. Wallets pushing grocery carts. I remain signed up because it reminds me why some food on our grocery shelves is the way it is.

Anyway, this week they’re talking about the popular consumer trend for brown food. I did not know that brown was a food category. It makes me think of the stuff from the back end of a cow, even though that’s not really a food, not to humans, anyway. I am sure they don’t mean for me to be thinking this at this time. But they’re too far down their food as a commodity rabbit hole to even know that brown and food isn’t a word combo you and I (the consumers) read as a unit. Because I am a newsletter subscriber, they assume I am of their tribe and know what ‘brown food’ is. They don’t assume I’m going to tell you that your food has been processed (in so many ways) by people who wear lab coats.

I had to read quite far into their fifteen page report, beginning with a graph called, Flavour Group Inspiration for the Season. But I now know that brown food is simply toffee, pumpkin, gingerbread, chocolate, etc. – food that is naturally (or not) brown when we eat it. Turns out they have a category for red food, too. I’m guessing the black category is the smallest.

If these folks had their way, would they sell food by colour? That would be a different kind of grocery store. Twizzlers beside ketchup, raw chicken beside Caesar salad dressing.

The Boardroom Talks

As usual, I imagine the discussion in the board room. The Boardroom Talks, as I call them. Imaginative things happen here, like the idea that it’s good to make consumers listen to Christmas music nonstop for six weeks prior to December 25.


In the brown food conversation, I see some lab coats using the brown food term as though all food comes from petrie dishes. A lab coat, with an eye on the yellow Danishes spread out on the boardroom table, tells the assembled group that a particular sticky toffee pudding is too grey; grey food is usually just fish and sausages, he says. Oh, and canned (green) beans, the kind the British used to like before the French got to them. The marketing suits find this colourful chatter attractive and the next thing you know, I’m thinking my Christmas table has way too much red and green food and not nearly enough brown. I make six gallons of gravy and twenty-two gingerbread bundt cakes.