Upon hearing the word “trend”, you may think fashion. Fact is, foods trend too! Last October, nearly 1,300 members of the American Culinary Federation were given a list of 231 items and asked to rate each item as a hot trend, yesterday’s news or a perennial 2015 favorite. I dare say, many of these leanings, just a couple of years ago, might have been considered a bit unusual. But food trending is neither unusual nor a mere passing. And thanks to those folks embracing the unusual, much of what is now trending becomes the new normal.
I think you will agree that these top 20 food trends are a movement in the right direction:
- Locally sourced meat and seafood
Many consumers are becoming more interested in knowing where their food is coming from.
- Locally grown produce
The definition of locally grown food is not something that is regulated. Local can mean the food comes from around the corner or across the state. Know your farmer, know your food.
- Environmental sustainability
In an ideal farm system, agriculture works in harmony with nature. The idea is that as farmers take from the land, they also give back.
- Healthful kids’ meals
As children grow, help them choose healthy meals and snacks. Eating right helps provide the nutrients needed to be healthy. Teach good eating habits.
- Natural ingredient/minimally processed food
Consumers are demanding “real” foods – fresh, seasonal and less processed. Plus, consumers are seeking to have an impact on improving the environment. This is fueling a demand for what consumers consider to be real food. In fact, major restaurant chains are claiming they too will quit using additives – of any kind. Can you imagine?
- New cuts of meat
Eat a whole animal, leaving nothing but the squeal has made less popular cuts of meat trendy again. An added benefit is that meat processing ranks as one of the most efficient in the food chain – a lot of what is not eaten gets rendered. The animal is broken down into non-edibles that end up in dozens of other products — some of which may surprise you.
- Hyper-local sourcing
In respond to consumer demand for fresher more sustainable foods, some restaurants have begun using ‘hyper-local sourcing’. A good example of hyper-local sourcing would be an on-site or local garden to supplement their kitchens.
- Sustainable seafood
Food & Water Watch has analyzed many different fish and shellfish to create a guide that assess human health and environmental impacts of eating certain seafood, as well as the socio-economic impacts on coastal and fishing communities. http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/Seafood_Guide_2013.pdf
- Food waste reduction
Can you believe a few cities in the US make it mandatory for its residents to compost food waste! Demands are much easier to digest knowing that each of us is VERY wasteful…… experts surmise that up to 30% of food produced is thrown away! How can this be helped? Learn to cook. Get organized. Be resourceful! As an example, you can turn yesterday’s leftover vegetables into tomorrow’s breakfast frittata!
- Farm/estate branded items
Although this is just another marketing tool, who doesn’t like something that sounds like it came from a quaint little neighbor’s farm?
- Non-wheat noodles/pasta
Along with the growing popularity of gluten free eating there is growing popularity to consume noodles made from things other than wheat. Have you tried rice, quinoa, mung beans, kelp, sweet potato or zucchini pasta? Many of these non-wheat alternatives are quite tasty and can be made yourself.
Have you seen the spiral cutters or julienne peelers?
- Gluten free cuisine
As stated earlier, one unifying theme for 2015 is grain variety. Many grains do not contain gluten, the protein composite found in wheat and related grains. With a bit of adjustment, gluten free grains can be made into many of the products to which we’ve grown accustom to eating.
- Ancient grains
You know whole grains have gone mainstream when you can purchase everything from chips to smoothies made from whole grains – and I’m not talking wheat, rice and oats. Buckwheat, barley, brown rice flour, quinoa, chia, sorghum and amaranth, flax, and spelt, are all beginning to seem pretty normal.
- Whole grain items in kids meals
Good nutrition can taste good too! Whole grains have also become the norm in school meals.
- Non-traditional fish
As mentioned in number 8, fish is trending. Nutrition Action newsletter has an excellent article worth reading. SOS: Save our Seafood, What’s good for us and the oceans. It was written by Barton Seaver, the director of the Healthy and Sustainable Food Program at the Harvard School of Public Health. http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/cover_story_-_save_our_seafood.pdf
- Ethnic-inspired breakfast items
Meats, fish, cheeses, breads, rice, fruit, vegetables, eggs…..even beans can go here!
You can learn a lot from a label. Learn how to read one. http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm274593.htm
- House-made/artisan ice cream
In keeping with the whole “food conscientious” theme, even ice cream lovers are opting for fresh, seasonal ingredients. Ice cream is definitely a summer favorite and is best when it’s fresh and homemade!
- Fruit/vegetable kids side items
Fruit and veggies are now available in snack packs! Apparently, even some vending machines are selling baby carrot packs. Not to mention all the frozen smoothie products that contains both fruits and vegetables – without sugar.
- Artisan cheeses
This is a growing niche market and delicious at that! Artisanal cheese refers to cheeses produced by hand using the traditional craftsmanship of skilled cheese makers. Many artisan cheeses can also be called farmstead cheeses, as they are made with milk from the producer’s own herds of cows, sheep, and goats.
The next time you shop for food, give a nod to those early adopters who are embracing the unfamiliar. A considerable amount of the new foods we are seeing and eating today are better for us and better for the environment. This movement is here to stay.
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