You may not imagine that the aspirations of the Saltire Society - the apolitical organisation founded in 1936 to support the country's cultural life through discussion and debate around architecture, arts & crafts, civil engineering, history, literature, music and science - would have much to do with food.

But in this, Scotland's Year of Food and Drink, it has added to its impressive canon of commissioned essays a new one by the food historian Catherine Brown.

Her booklet, launched last week and entitled Making Better Out of Good: Scotland's Food and Drink, joins the likes of Richard Holloway's A Plea for a Secular Scotland, Meaghan Delahunt's The Artist and Nationality, Magnus Linklater's Myth & Reality: The Nature of Scottish Identity, Iain Macwhirter's Democracy in the Dark: The decline of the Scottish Press and How to Keep the Lights on, and William McIlvanney's Dreaming Scotland. All have the distinctive blue, white and grey cover design by Glasgow artist and polymath Alasdair Gray; and so, with this new addition, food becomes affiliated with culture and how we see ourselves as a nation. And quite right too.

For too long, Scotland has been either too timid or too disempowered to muster the confidence to shout about not only its world-renowned natural larder, but also about its unique culinary heritage.

Brown's own early food memories from the 1950s are in stark contrast to the current situation for many modern consumers, and yet they contain all the culinary buzzwords of the day, such as foraging, nose-to-tail eating, growing your own and slow food.

At her maternal grandmother's tenement flat in the east end of Glasgow, she enjoyed nourishing broth made with cheap cuts of meat, barley and fresh vegetables and cooked in a pot over the fire in the range of her kitchen; by contrast, the menu at her paternal "seaside" granny just north of Dundee was locally-caught and foraged fresh fish and shellfish and fruit from her garden.

As the author points out, much of this heritage has been lost - mainly through poor historic curation by a succession of uncaring governments, coupled with the march of the supermarkets in the early 1980s. This has led to a dislocation with our food, and a wiping out of inherited food knowledge in at least two generations of modern parents. The dire statistics on obesity, Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease that have resulted are all too painfully obvious.

But there is much to be hopeful about. I had the privilege of introducing Ms Brown's book before a live audience, and the animation of the conversation it triggered was testament to a reversal of what I have previously dubbed Scotland's "culinary cringe".

There's no doubt that the food revival Scotland is currently experiencing is unprecedented in our time. This is evident in a range of education initiatives, improved public sector and event catering, the growth of community gardens, requests for allotments, young chefs mounting pop-up restaurants, and so forth. Poor health statistics are plateau-ing out. Brown quite rightly praised the Scottish Government for putting food at the top of its agenda. Its national food and drink policy (unique in the UK), and its various progressions towards our becoming a Good Food Nation, take much of the credit for this - though it's generally accepted that we're not quite there yet.

The Saltire Society should be proud of its sleight of hand, for now food is at the heart of the cultural debate too.