Modern Nostalgia

One of twelve strategies developed in the Trust Study, with the goal of helping consumers eat more healthfully and sustainably.

The Trust Study

In collaboration with EIT Food, Future of Food Institute conducted a study to gain a deeper understanding about consumer attitudes towards the food chain, and particularly the role trust plays in that relationship.

One of the outcomes of this study is a set of twelve strategies, co-created together with European participants in the Citizen Participation Forum 2020. 

One of these strategies is Modern Nostalgia.

What is Modern Nostalgia?

We learned that many consumers romanticise the way people would eat in the past. They associate the past with whole foods and organic vegetables, cows in meadows, and home cooking, which offered health and comfort.

Wouldn’t it be great if they could associate innovative and sustainable methods of food production with the positive feelings of the romanticised past?

What does Modern Nostalgia look like?

  • Wrap innovation in a nostalgia-inducing package
  • Draw parallels to what consumers are used to eating
  • Focus on similarities with the familiar rather than what is innovative about the new product
  • Bring back foods from the past that have been forgotten

What’s the catch?

For this strategy to work, the following points need to be taken into account:


Consumers should not be led to believe untruths about how the food is produced.

Holding on to the past

Not all ideas from the past about food are still
appropriate. Consumers need to be taught to be critical about what they know or think they know.

What did community members say about this?

“I have learned lots from recipe ideas, to food inspiration, tips on sustainability and nostalgic childhood memories of how we used to eat compared to now. It has all made me focus a bit more on making healthy food choices and giving more thought to how sustainable the foods I buy are.”
Lisa, 48, Ireland

“At a young age I learned what good and healthy food is. I still rely on that knowledge. I agree with this because even though in those days healthy and innovative eating was not as widely developed and available as now parents and grandparents taught the awareness of healthy eating.”
Mateusz, 29, Poland

“I don’t see any new ways of producing food.
The ancient knew better than us how to cultivate the land and raise animals. They were close to the land and knew to listen to the nature and take from it what it had to offer.” Noelle, 78, France

Best practices: who is already doing this?

New Roots

“We’re creating the traditions of the future”

Cashew-based artisanal cheese producers. Branding focus lies on sustainability and respect for nature and tradition.

Those Vegan Cowboys

New food tech company that aims to produce dairy milk bypassing the cow, through a fermentation process. Even though the idea is very innovative, it is rooted in fermentation; a very old food production practice. Their branding focuses on the similarities to dairy rather than the innovation aspect. 


Our mission is to help accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food system, by including the consumer as equally relevant stakeholder.

We offer accessible and clear consumer insights that help all actors in the food chain to effectively support & seduce the consumer to make the sustainable food choice.

Laan van Meerdervoort 36 - 2517AL - Den Haag - The Netherlands -