There's a whole new meaning to tempting your tastebuds. Do not be fooled if someone tells you that flavor is flavor is flavor and all like foods taste the same. This actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, an apple is going to have many similarities to all the other apples; that’s what makes them apples.
However, once you start narrowing down actual flavor characteristics and “notes”, believe me, a Fuji apple from New Zealand tastes very different from a Fuji apple grown in Washington. The difference comes from a little thing called Terroir (pronounced tear waaahr).
Typically, people are first introduced to the world of ‘terroir’ when they enter the world of wine tasting. Educated tasters can identify regions and vineyards from wines just by the noting aspects of terroir hidden in the end result. Sounds kind of snobby, we admit, but it’s quickly becoming part of a defining conversation in the world of food.
So, what exactly is terroir? Originally, it was a wine term to denote the region or micro-region where particular wines were grown. The term has since been expanded upon and now is used to describe the territory or environment that any food is raised/grown in. The influences of the soil, the weather patterns, the cultivation patterns; they all impact terroir.
This is why the flavor of wine changes from harvest to harvest. There will be some basic notes that are the same because of things like mineral content in the soil, basic geographical influence, and cultivation processes; however, weather patterns and influences of surrounding flora and fauna can change a taste from one year to the next.
If you pay attention to terroir, you can begin to identify the difference in like foods raised in different locations, including animal products. There is a huge flavor and nutrient difference between grass fed, prairie raised, corn fed, etc, etc.... Just as there is a distinctive difference in foods like chocolate, coffee, fruits (hence the difference between a NZ Fuji and a WA Fuji), and vegetables.
Even though the term “Terroir” might sound snobby, it is quickly becoming and important aspect of discussion for all things food, health, and environment related. We at Bohemian Mojo think it is important because it reminds us that soil health, water health, and even the presence and health of other species are critical aspects to sustainability and our future.
Interestingly, terroir is also entering the conversation in the world of functional medicine. Savvy and progressive researchers, doctors and scientists are starting to recognize the value of terroir to your own internal terroir, called the “microbiome”. Consuming foods from good, healthy soil not only increases the nutrient content but also, through micro-particles that remain on the food, increases the healthy bacteria in your gut. There is some pretty major research going on right now investigating the potential for increasing immune function, improving mood, and decreasing inflammation just through interacting with the terroir from a healthy landscape. Reviving the landscape and supporting the healthy bacterial growth could make all the difference to not only the flavors in our food but the health and well-being of our bodies, minds, and spirits.