The Top 10 Food TrendsAdd to Recipe Box
Food trends are changing more rapidly now than ever before. With the advent of texting, social media and sharing networks like Pinterest and Instagram, we are becoming a world of sharers. One of the things we love to share is what we are cooking and eating. Social media is making it easier for others to join in our growing interest in new tastes and for new trends to quickly develop.
This list of my top ten food trends for 2018 is not a list of food fads. These are trends that I believe come from a deep groundswell of interest in eating better, healthier and more varied food, food that is natural and free from things that can harm us. We are also putting those foods together in unique ways that are vastly changing the food world in many positive ways.
Here is what food trends I think will continue to interest us in 2018:
1. Eating Local
The eat local movement has been on the rise for a few years now, but finally the majority of people seem to be catching on to the benefits of eating food that is locally grown. Besides supporting your local farmers and food producers, which is a very important part of our economy, eating local food has a lot of other benefits for us.
Foods that are grown at a far distance and trucked to our local grocery stores sure can be convenient, but we do pay a bit for that convenience. Fruits and vegetables that travel thousands of miles to get to reach us lose much of their nutrient value before they get to your table. Local food however, especially if you frequent your local farmers market or receive a CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture), may have been picked as recently as the same day, and comes to you full of all the vitamins and nutrients they had while they were still attached to the plant.
Of course most of us, especially in the more northern climates, don’t have access to local fresh strawberries or peaches all year round. It’s okay to supplement when you need to and thankfully our grocery stores make that possible with fresh fruit and vegetables from around the world. But when your local farmers’ markets and fruit and vegetable stands are filled with nature’s bounty, more and more of us are taking advantage of the health giving properties and economic value of buying local food products. Yeah for us!
2. More Natural Foods
We are beginning to demand more of our food. Whereas even 5 years ago, many were still proponents of getting out the frozen or boxed prepared dinners on busy weeknights, more and more we are realizing that processed foods don’t serve us well.
There are hidden chemicals in prepared and frozen foods. I myself can’t eat a frozen dinner any more. My body reacts to the chemicals. I am not even sure what they are. I just know that I cough for days after eating even a “healthy” version of a processed food dinner.
Many of us are reading labels more and questioning the ingredients added to our food. We are choosing organic, lobbying companies to be more open about what they add to our food and trying to prevent companies from genetically modifying the foods we eat.
I really think that this is not just a trend, but a realization that we are what we eat and that if we want healthy bodies, we need to give our bodies healthy food. I think (and hope) that this trend is on the rise and lasting.
3. More Veggies
A traditional meal when I grew up was meat, potatoes and a vegetable. Many families still eat this way, but more and more people are upping the veggie content in their meals. You don’t have to go vegetarian if it’s not your thing, but eating more vegetables at each meal or opting for the occasional meatless meal are easy ways to add more nutrients to our diets.
When I have a meat and potatoes meal I often add two more vegetable side dishes and switch out white potatoes for sweet potatoes or a wheat free grain. Just adding a simple salad is a help too. For me it’s often just tomatoes, onion and cucumber with a light lemon juice and oil dressing.
We are also interested in a wider variety of vegetables and that is reflected in the larger selection of fresh fruits and vegetables that we see in our grocery stores. We can now find things on our grocery store shelves we would have never thought of several years ago – things like plantains, wild mushrooms, jack fruit, couscous, quinoa, kale, amaranth, bitter melon, daikon, tomatillos and many, many more.
4. Make it Yourself
With the realization that canned, boxed and frozen foods don’t always give us the nutritional value we want comes a journey back to the kitchen. We still want quick meals, but are realizing that with a bit of planning and learning new recipes, we can prepare healthy, colorful, delicious meals ourselves.
The huge popularity of cooking shows is testament to our new interest in making it ourselves. These shows give us lots of ideas about how to make meals that are interesting and tasty but also easy and quick to make. The chefs and home cooks that do it well have now become celebrities. Other than Wolfgang Puck and Emeril, how many celebrity chefs do you remember from 10 years ago? Our appetite for new recipes and tastes has really been fired up.
The slow food movement is another aspect of our journey back to the kitchen. If it’s not quick and easy, cook it slow. The crock pot is the busy person’s perfect way to cook long and slow. Put everything in the pot in the morning and come home to a delicious home cooked meal at the end of the day. Either way, fast or slow, we are coming back to real food.
5. Alternative Grains and Dairy/Gluten Free/Dairy
So many people these days seem to be sensitive to gluten. So much so, the food industry has finally noticed and there are many gluten free options available to choose from in the grocery store aisles. Dairy is another group of products that people seem to be sensitive to. Thankfully there are now many options for dairy free eating and drinking – almond milk (my personal favorite), soy milk and coconut milk.
In ancient times wheat was just one of many grains in use. Amaranth, quinoa, maize and millet were all consumed regularly. Then we began our love affair with wheat and spent hundreds of years pretty much ignoring the bounty of delicious flavors that were wheat free, with the exception of some rice here and there. Now we are finally going back to the future – tasting and enjoying these wheat free alternatives and making them a new staple in our diets, adding todays flavors to keep them contemporary.
The new grains can be quite healthy too. For example, 1 cup of cooked quinoa (185 g) contains 8.14 grams of protein, 21% of the recommended daily amount. It is a healthy staple both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
6. Global Foods
The move to global foods and the desire for global tastes have been on the upswing for several years now and there is no stopping this trend. In fact, I would say that this is not just a trend. It’s a new way of eating that we will continue with.
For many years Italian food, French food, Mexican and then Chinese food were our choices for non-North American flavors. Then people began to discover the flavors of Japan, Greece, eastern Europe, Thailand and Vietnam. Now the flavors of the Middle East are popping up all over the place. I absolutely love Middle Eastern food, from the lamb, the warm spices, the use of things like cinnamon in a savory dish, hummus, baba ganoush, lemon on everything – you just can’t beat the flavors found in the countries of the Middle East. So healthy too.
Let the global food revolution continue.
7. Preserving the Harvest
I may be giving my age away when I say that I remember my mother canning peaches, plums, tomatoes and pears every summer and fall. The big canning pot was out, the jars were sterilized and many hours were spend canning food that we could enjoy all year round. That practice almost disappeared for some years but it’s back.
We many not always be preserving the harvest like Mom did, but we are doing it ourselves, in our own way. Now it may be making your own kimchi, yogurt, pickled watermelon rind, a chutney or fig jam. We see the fabulous selection of high end condiments in grocery and specialty stores and realize we can make them ourselves. It’s delicious and fun and lets you enjoy your favorites all year round.
8. Comfort Foods Updated
This is another food trend that began a few years ago. We still love our comfort food, but like a few twists to the old recipes we grew up with. So chicken pot pie may come with a filo pastry crust, and mac and cheese may have lobster or truffles added and many more exotic cheeses than the standby cheddar.
Burgers are getting revamped every few minutes it seems, with fabulous flavors from around the world. Burgers with kimchi, wasabi and pickled vegetables tempt us with fabulous new tastes that we are devouring. Even the burger itself is enjoying a revamp. Good beef burgers are always in demand, but move over and make room for pork, bison, turkey, lamb, shrimp and even moose.
9. Food Mashups
I think it all started with chicken and waffles, the now infamous Southern US pairing that doesn’t seem like it should work but really does. Or maybe it was the turducken that started it all – a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey. Both have become commonplace now and are a part of a growing number of food pairings that our first reaction to is probably “Really?”.
How about the Ramen burger – a hamburger with a Ramen noodle bun or the famous Cronut, a cross between a donut and a croissant? A Caesar salad pizza or banana pudding tiramisu?
We are mixing it up in our food pairings, sometimes in amazingly delicious ways and bringing global flavors into the mix. Tacos can now come with a kimchi topping and lasagna is made with salsa verde. Creative cooks are thinking outside the box and coming up with fabulous flavors that continue to tempt our taste buds.
10. Growing it Ourselves
The home garden used to be a common site, but over the last few decades has almost disappeared. The good new is – it’s back, helping us to easily add fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs to our daily diets.
Our new found passion for real food often extends to a home garden, or container gardening for those without much room. Fresh herbs grown in pots or growing our own tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from our own gardens is a real pleasure. If you don’t have room, try a window sill garden for fresh herbs all year round.
The more adventurous of us are even raising chickens for fresh, free range eggs. More and more communities are saying yes to chicken coops in back yards and people love feeling like they have their own mini farm right in the middle of the city.
I think these new trends in how we produce, buy and cook our food signify people’s desire to make positive changes in the way we consume food and a turning away from many of the “frankenfoods” we see on store shelves. I for one hope it all continues to thrive.
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