The heritage food trend has been steadily on the rise for a while now, and this year it is bigger than ever. Not only has the range of heritage variety fruit and veg become increased, but so has the popularity of historic dining venues, from old mills to vineyards and breweries.
With EU laws surrounding non-commercial seed being relaxed in order to make the registration process more affordable, champions of heritage varieties have been able to renew interest in these fruit and vegetable types, driven by the recent trend for sustainability and home-grown veg, and because quite simply, many of these crops just taste better.
Mainstream varieties of vegetables and fruit are bred with thick skins to help with transit, for reliability and resistance to disease, and it is through this breeding process that flavour can be lost. The heritage movement embraces the popularity of the ‘straight from the garden’ trend, reclaiming long-lost flavours and bringing produce like Romanesco, Ornamental Squash and several bean varieties back to our tables.
Not only are consumers ordering these flavoursome heritage vegetables, they are also growing their own; people want to grow a variety of flavours that are good for the garden, remembering what their grandparents grew and wanting to do the same. Shifting away from large-scale agriculture, consumers are embracing small-scale crops.
Driven by nostalgia, flavour, changing consumer attitudes and new-found affordability, there are signs that near-extinct varieties of fruit and veg, so-called "heritage crops" are making a comeback and hundreds of almost-extinct crops have moved out of the history books and back into vegetable patches, gardens and orchards, so look forward to seeing so-called ‘heirloom’ fruit and veg varieties on restaurant tables around the country!