The trends keep coming. This time the 2010 food trend predictions are from The Food Channel, based on research conducted in conjunction with CultureWaves and the International Food Futurists. Check here for the full list. I’ve highlighted a few of the trends below.
You are what you eat, and we are big into understanding ourselves. That’s what’s leading this trend — our constant need for assurance that we are eating the right things, that our food is safe, that we are not ingesting pesticides or anything that will someday prove harmful. If we can provide jobs, help the economy, protect animals and ensure a sustained food supply at the same time, well, that’s all the better.
Call it food vetting, sourcing or whatever you want — the issue is that people are asking where their food comes from. We call it the “new luxury food” because it can be more expensive to include that traceability into delivery, but we want it anyway. It’s everything from looking for mercury-safe seafood to wanting to know that humane treatment was given to farm animals. It’s about no hormones in meats, and organically-grown fruits and vegetables. It’s about Fair Trade chocolate and spices.
It’s about branded meat coming into its own so that you can trust the source and make your choices based on what the animals were fed, where they were pastured and how they were slaughtered. Expect to see more like what Dean & Deluca is doing with its Brandt Beef, from single family natural beef producers.
We might even begin tagging our food so we can follow it from source, to purchase to table. While society is more than one step removed from much of its food source these days, food vetting is an attempt to pull us closer and give us an element of control. We want to know where our food comes from, how it’s grown and harvested and whether it’s truly good for us or not.
Sustainability has gone mainstream. Unlike a year ago, when people were somewhat afraid to use the word, now it flows trippingly off the tongue. America in particular is just now learning how to be sustainable, and Americans are holding themselves responsible. They aren’t doing this to create an illusion — there are a lot of “green echo” people out there trying to make it look like they are green. In 2010, we’ll see people and companies becoming sustainable for authentic reasons; they are doing it to make a difference.
If we are gong local and sustainable, some things are going to change. “Nearby” and “hometown” may help clarify that “local” designation. After all, how does a town like Las Vegas, that doesn’t really grow anything, offer local vegetables?
With packaging, you’ll see more bamboo and biodegradable, and “nude food” that is more transparent with less packaging. Eating local, seasonal and fresh will be recognized as a sustainable way to eat. We’ll see more grass fed beef, which is all about sustainability and flavor. We are assimilating sustainability and making it work for us instead of fighting it.
Keeping it Real
In a back-to-basics economy perhaps it is natural to return to basic ingredients. This isn’t about retro, or comfort food, or even cost. It’s about determining the essentials and stocking your pantry accordingly. It is about pure, simple, clean and sustainable. It is—dare we say—a shift from convenience foods to scratch cooking, now that we have more time than money and more food knowledge and concerns.
It is a natural shift, when you think about it. The trend is toward concentrating on quality, basic ingredients and building a menu from there. That’s where the value is going to be in 2010. It’s partially based on how chefs eat at home—something we all know more about thanks to the increase in sharing from celebrity chefs, cooking shows and foodie blogs. It’s economy driven to a point, but think about it—we aren’t all digging out the Spam®. Instead, we’re exploring the extendability of known ingredients to prepare ourselves for the long haul of economic recovery.
Basic ingredients are trending high because people are still eating more at home, and they need a foundation for nightly meals. Expect to see more education that focuses on what you need in your refrigerator and pantry. Expect online shopping to focus less on luxury items and more on basics. People will be willing to spend more of their money on basics and will find that, in the long run, they end up spending less because they have less waste, higher quality and more value.
This will include some variety and the general acceptance of “new basic,” with some items we consider essential that our grandmothers may not have used—for example, olive and other oils in different flavors and styles. So while we are keeping it real, we’ll also be redefining what the staples are in many kitchens. We’ve already made a substantial shift in how we shop, prepare food, and eat, and we don’t expect this to change even if the economy improves. We are done with excess, and ready to knuckle down for an extended period to the essentials of life and of food.