The Edge of Food
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|Carolyn Presutti||June 24th 2012|
Many international food vendors are trying to make an impact in the U.S. market. The National Association for Specialty Foods says the fastest emerging cuisine is Latin, followed by Indian and Eastern European. The recent Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington is the largest of its kind in North America.
Mame Diene remembers the ancient baobab tree in the courtyard of her family home. As a child, she was not allowed to climb it or cut its branches. Now, she honors these trees of Senegal by selling their powder as a natural dietary supplement. "It’s wonderful for the heart. You have twice as more anti-oxidants in this fruit than goji berries, six times more than in blueberries,” she said.
It is one of 180,000 items at the Fancy Food Show where food producers sell their trendiest goods to specialty shops and markets. Countries here sponsor a complete row of booths. The Korean Pavilion, featured spice noodles and beef. The Indonesian Pavilion -- healthy dried noodles and coconut products. And, the Chilean Pavilion with its own food truck. Trade commissioner Alejandro Buvinic says Chile has plenty to offer the American market.
“We have the huge range of mountains Los Andes [The Andes Mountain Range]. We have the driest desert in the north, the Pacific Ocean, and in the south we have the ice. So that means what we produce is a huge quality and good for the health,“ said Buvinic.
More than 50 different countries are participating. That number has held steady for the past several years. What is changing is that Americans are demanding more international food. Sapore Oils & Vinegar caters to consumers in Washington's Capitol Hill neighborhood -- many from different countries. Owner Renee Farr shops at the food show for global olive oils from small producers.
"The beauty is I can meet them one-on-one, talk to them how the products are made, how they are manufactured, about their family, how long the orchard has been in their family and that means a lot to me and then in turn, I can share that with my customers," Farr stated.
And, Diene has a story of her own. She was making cosmetics from the baobab tree oil but had no use for the powder from the tree fruit. Now that powder supplement supports her female workforce of 2500. "It’s a multiplication of their revenue by 4.5. It’s wonderful,"she explained. "It means for them, [their] children don’t have to work, they can go to school.” Baobab -- "The Tree of Life" in Africa -- providing a livelihood for African women and trying like so many international foods to catch on in the United States.
Carolyn Presutti writes for VOA, from where this article is adapted.