September 8, 2017

Turmeric: From Superfood to Instagram Photo Op.

The “new” cool kid is here—step aside matcha because turmeric is the trendy drink for fall 2017.

Please, don’t get me wrong: I love turmeric.

Turmeric has acquired a legit place on the superfood list. Not only is it an ancient spice used in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine that is believed to be rich in nutrients, but it is also a delicious spice with a great aroma.

People that I know have been consuming turmeric for the longest time. And I, for the last few years, have slowly incorporated it into my family’s diet—thanks to articles and recipes I’ve read on elephant journal.

But I can’t help but notice that, in the last couple of weeks, turmeric lattes have taken over most of the small and big coffee spots around my neighborhood.

It’s great that we want to include more superfoods in our daily diet, but what is it about our culture? For this to happen we have to make it a fashion statement that is Instagram-worthy?

We keep moving—almost at a fast fashion speed—from superfood to wellness practice to health obsessed way of life consistently until we find the “new” hip thing.

There is no balance.

There is no mindfulness.

If you ask an Indian family, they will tell you they’ve been consuming turmeric as part of their regular diet since, well, forever.

Even if you just started hearing about it, turmeric has been around for over 4,500 years. It was mostly used in ancient medicine and as a dye, but it also has a high significance in Hindu religion, gastronomy, and culture. It has been found on pots in New Delhi that date back as early at 2,500 B.C.E.

It is nothing new on the map, but it was largely only associated with Indian food for thousands of years. However, market studies show that, since 2004, its consumption has increased by 300 percent.

In their 1973 video piece, “Television Delivers People,” Richard Serra and Carlota Fay said, “Mass media means that a medium can deliver masses of people…You are the product of television.”

Forty-four years later, we seem to be standing in the same spot. We consume ourselves, we are the mass, and we are still the product.

How do we change this?

We get informed and try to balance.

Superfoods are amazing; wellness and health practices are better than eating junk and being a couch potato playing video games all day. Kale, arugula, blueberries, coconut, quinoa, green tea, ginger, and chia (amongst others) are all great. They all have benefits. But, somehow, we’ve managed to explode them to the point of making them not only a class label, but also environmentally unsustainable.

All of these foods grow in specific places on the planet, during particular seasons, and specific weather conditions. With both overpopulation and demand, the only thing in the corporate mind is producing as much as possible.

An example of this is the coconut plantations in Indonesia.

Furthermore, the significant demand makes these products vulnerable to adulteration. Turmeric has already been known to be altered by using toxic dyes and fillers that might harm us long-term.

So, next time our favorite social media star or magazine tells us to run out and get the radical new turmeric latte from our favorite coffee shop or juice place, let’s look a little bit into what we are about to consume, even if it’s something good.

Maybe we are looking for a different kind of benefit; maybe our thing is still the matcha tea or a simple slow-drip coffee.

Let’s not be driven by the masses and fashion. Let’s not become the product delivered. Let’s not become a corporate mob for a nice Instagram picture.

Let’s stop and think about who we are and what we like.

If, after this, we still want to get the latte, then cheers!

Let it be usconscious and aware us—who make the decision and enjoy that delicious golden milk that, if taken balanced, will be of benefit to our bodies and help us stay healthy throughout the winter.


Author: Montse Leon
Image: Author’s Own; Vimeo
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Nicole Cameron

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