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What’s Coming: Food Trends 2011

By Gretchen Morfogen

 

2010 was a year of retro food. Local, local, local. Food, farms, beverages and menus designed with local focus. Well, that’s getting back to a reality prior to global schlepping of our foods from anywhere to anywhere. I know it can present a challenge to many retailers and restauranteurs due to logistics and added work (it takes more time to call a dozen farmers and local producers than it does to pick up a phone and call one purveyor) For those who make it work, the end result is magnificent! There is no other flavor like that of a fresh picked piece of produce. The local movement is far from over but in 2011 expect to see a morphing change to offering additional information on the menus besides what farm or producer made the product you are eating.

The “maximum disclosure” laws are coming into effect and business will have to disclose the caloric and or nutritional information on menus. Since clearly the consumer is blaming obesity on everyone but themselves, the operators of food establishments are going to have to publicize the reality of the plate of chili cheese fries and the gargantuan pasta carbonara (in case you didn’t know they were fatted down with calories galore and aren’t good for you.)

However, the real trends on the near horizon are going to be:

1. Designer Drinks on the Rise- people are always going to consume and with consumption the beverage industry has to continually evolve. Not all have to involve alcohol, the savvy drink designer will have all ages and flavor desires in mind.

2. Small Artisan Shops- the rebuilding of the economy sits with the small business entrepreneur and the emergence of talented artisans is no exception. They are honing their craft and bringing it to small shops and destination storefronts featuring meat, bread, and/or vegetables.

3. Mobility- some of the best cooking talents are giving up their bricks and mortar and going mobile- the food truck movement is continuing to grow. Expanding beyond the taco truck and hot dog stand these kitchens on wheels are going to serve the latest, greatest culinary goods without the overhead of a sit down eatery.

4. Global Cuisine at Home- More home cooks are returning to the kitchen and the availability of ethnic ingredients and the accessibility to recipes and techniques is allowing the expansion of the home repertoire into more flavors of the world. Fast growing interest is Thai, Japanese and South American foods with Korea up and coming.

5. Wireless Wonders- recipes, reservations, shopping lists and cooking tips all available on the internet via handheld mobile device. Inspiration can come in through your phone while you stand at the butcher counter wondering what to serve with your chop.

6. Healthy Eating is no longer an oxymoron- people have gotten a grip on the disastrous reality of fad diets and overall know how to eat right. Whether or not they choose to is another matter but we are dismissing the easy out diets that are unhealthy and cause more problems than they are worth. People are spending their money on a sure thing: fresh wholesome foods and exercise.

7. Dessert First- Pies are making a comeback. Replacing the designer cupcake they will return to menus as pies, tarts, and tortes, and small desserts will continue to rule. Personally, I’d love to see more of the dessert cheese plate but that’s just me…

8. Entertaining at Home- with more and more people taking to the kitchen that brunt of entertaining will too. Cooking for an intimate party in the comfort of your home is the way to go. Your menu, your way, your friends, your family, your dollar. A much more economical method of entertainment dining.

9. Gadgets and Gizmos- although a sharp knife and a cutting board is really all you need to get a great meal started, the plethora of cool cooking toys out there in the market is a fun way to get a touch more creative with your menu.

10. Don’t Knock Convenience- we don’t all have time to cook a meal from scratch so there are excellent premade items that can cut the time off preparing a meal. Be sure to read ingredient labels so you aren’t purchasing over processed foods but a great pasta sauce, breads, condiments etc. are a great way to accentuate the meal without the time involved in making everything yourself.

 

2011 is another year of getting back to the basics of cutting costs at the grocery store, eating out and entertaining so stay tuned to the food channels, get the recipe app on your mobile phone, and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Have a delicious New Year!

 

Gretchen Morfogen is a regular culinary writer for The Healthy Planet magazine.

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