Many products were once considered commodities. Think about wine. There was a time when your choice in a restaurant was red or white. Nowadays, you have an extensive list of wines matched by the wine sommelier to fit the cuisine, vision of the chef, and the concept of the restaurant. Wine was once just a commodity. Now, it's a product with terroir. We know the place where it is coming from. We know the producer. We know its character, and we know how to pair it with food.
I can think of many more products that have gone through the transition from commodity to terroir. Let us look at salt. Not long ago, salt was just that — salt. It came from a factory, and it was pure, white, and highly processed. If you read this book, you're highly likely to be a foodie, and I would bet that you have three to five different salts at home. Maybe a fleur de sel from one of the famous producers of France. You might have a pink Himalayan salt at home, and you probably use high-quality, natural table salt. What happened? Salt has transitioned from a commodity product that is highly processed in a factory to a natural product with terroir and character.
I am sure by now you can name some other products that have gone through this commodity transition. Oil became olive oil from a real place with terroir. We discovered that Hershey makes not chocolate, but a chocolate-like substance and that real dark chocolate is a unique natural product similar to wine displaying terroir and character.
There is also a strong trend with chefs and consumers to know and understand where their food is coming from. The farm-to-table movement builds an emotional connection with the producers of your vegetables, meat, poultry, milk, cheese, and much more we consume. The products have origins, pedigree, seasonality, and have a story as well as terroir. They aren't a commodity.
We have used the word "terroir" a lot, and I like the term a lot. It comes from the French wine world and describes the local and sometimes hyperlocal character of a grape variety based on the Earth and soil that nourishes the grape that grows on it.
Water is late to the table, literally. We have used water forever for hydration, but we did not pay attention. It was just water. Other products have made the commodity to terroir transition while water was still just hydrating people.
FineWater argues that water isn't just water and that we overlooked an essential element of our epicurean world by not giving it the attention it deserves.