Regular readers of this blog will know that I love to keep to keep an eye on - though certainly not slavishly follow - food trends. So I wanted to take some time at the beginning of the year to share what is hot right now in the world of food... and what will be coming your way in 2017.
Clean Eating In response to growing consumer unease, food manufactures are scrambling to produce simpler products with fewer more natural sounding ingredients and greater transparency. The clean food frenzy is running out of puff and credibility... but bone broths are huge and fermented foods will get even bigger.
Less Sugar and Salt Low fat, carbohydrates and sugar rich foods were the villains of 2016. Consumer demand is forcing companies to remove artificial ingredients and to reduce sugar and salt in their products. What was formerly alternative is moving towards mainstream.
Free From…Everything… The Free From... trend continues to gain market share even among those who do not have allergies or intolerances – the perception that it is healthier. This epidemic of faddism is dangerous for our health, the more we remove from our diet the less diversity we have in our systems.
Flexitarian There is a significant rise in the number of part time vegetarians – people who are reducing their meat consumption because of health, sustainability and animal welfare concerns. The rise and rise of vegan diets continues to confound the sceptics...
Plant Proteins Perhaps the strongest food trend of all, not just vegetables but also expect to see more and more fungi and algae. (low cal, high in nutrients). And yoghurt with vegetables... of course.
Brussels sprouts are having their moment; move over kale. Beets are all the rage – the flavour of 2017. Kaleina, a mini version of kale and swede turnip chips are already with us. Meat and fish substitutes abound. A veggie burger that bleeds launched in 2016 and is only the beginning. The term ‘plant butcher’ has already been coined according to the sustainable food focused media.
Insect Protein Bugs will be the next big thing in protein. I’ve seen this coming for a number of years now. I’ve eaten ants in Copenhagen, grasshoppers in Mexico and tarantulas in Laos, but despite the convincing nutritional arguments I can’t see it coming ‘mainstream’ in this decade.
Sports Nutritionis moving mainstream with its energy balls, power drinks... The virtuous triangle of great food, exercise and great sleep rings true. Turmeric climbs and climbs in popularity. It contains curcumin, a super healthy compound, and you see it now in health sports drinks as well as food.
Drink Up Flavoured waters are exploding. Watermelon water is set to take over from coconut water in 2017, or how about birch water or cactus water! Kombucha, water and milk kefir and raw organic jersey milk and cream are virtually mainstream but there are increasingly bizarre flavours. And we mustn't forget the rise in drinkable meals and regional cocktails.
Rise and Rise of Online Shopping Traffic chaos in towns and cities is fuelling the phenomenal increase in online shopping and home deliveries.
Organic, Antibiotic Free, Hormone Free, GM Free... Demand is steadily rising as consumers become more aware and educated through the internet, media, films and YouTube. Healthy kids' meals are attracting a huge R & D budget as the obesity challenge deepens.
Souping Is the new juicing…did wonder about that craze, surprise, surprise! It turns out that soup contains the fibre, seeds, rind and pulp that juicing often discards.
The Home Delivery Revolution – Meal Kits Technology continues to play a greater role in our cooking and eating. Home delivery is well established in most major cities. The trend for ‘dining in’ instead of ‘dining out’ is beginning to cause concern to restaurateurs.
Meal Kits with all the ingredients prepped in a box complete with step by step instructions for how to finish the dish at home ticks all the boxes for busy commuters and parents who want the convenience and feel-good factor without the hassle and waste. What’s not to like about that? Drones may soon be delivering our meal kits and takeaway food… Both Google and Virginia Tech are trialling this in the US.
Restaurants Evolving Fine dining continues to lose out to casual neighbourhood places doing edgy reasonably priced food.
Chefs are either buying or renting land themselves or partnering with farmers so they can use what is freshest and best in season, as well as having the option to use all parts of the plant or animal.
We are seeing the rise of Artisan Butchery – with many restaurants proudly serving house-made charcuterie. Chefs are using more unsung cuts of meat and experimenting with grass-fed jerky, seafood jerky, pickles, artisan condiments.
The Sous Vide Craze is waning at last (cooking food in a plastic bag in a temperature-controlled water bath). Have to say, I was never convinced and am so delighted to see this particular practice slipping out of favour in favour of cooking over fire.
Cooking over Fire We can’t get enough of charred, blackened, torched and smoked food not just fish but meat, vegetables, drinks, even cordials and cocktails...
Food Trucks and Shacks Street inspired foods are hot! Authentic ethnic both in cafés, restaurants and in food trucks: pierogi, boa buns, multi ethnic dumplings and Japanese crepes – okonomi yaki...
Bowl Food We love serving food in bowls everything from ramen to noodles, pasta, curries, congee, tagines, rendang… Check outBowls of Goodnessby Nina Olsson published by Kyle Books.
Build Your Own Pizza Pizzerias are inviting customers to build their own pizza from a range of toppings laid out like a salad bar. I can certainly see the appeal of this….
Hot, Hotter, Hottest… Our appetite for heat continues. Sri Racha chilli sauce is now virtually looked on as a sauce for wimps! We are loving and having fun with shichimi ogarashi from Japan; sweet and spicy, gochujang from Korea; sambal oelek from Indonesia; harissa from North Africa; tsire, a spice mixture from West Africa; zhoug a Yemeni green chilli sauce and spicy berbere from Ethiopia...
Ancient Grains Ancient grains, chillies and pulses are taking centre stage after years of being forgotten: kamut, einkorn, teff from Ethopia and amaranth the ancient grain of the Aztec. Sorghum is the new quinoa. Sorghum is an ancient cereal grain and is used for food, animal fodder and the production of alcoholic beverages. It is regarded as the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world. Some of the health benefits of sorghum include its ability to prevent certain types of cancer, help control diabetes and improve digestive health.
Porridge Who knew that porridge would become so cool? In 2017 we’ll see porridge served at breakfast, lunch and any time in between with sweet and savoury toppings.
Sprouting Seeds (I remember that well!) is predicted to be another strong food trend. Not just seeds but nuts, beans and grains. This hugely increases the nutritional value and creates enzymes that make plant proteins, essential fatty acids, starches and vitamins more available to the body.
Quest for Less Familiar Flavours Expect to see more Eastern European food, Georgian, Middle Eastern, African flavours particularly Ethiopian... Poke (pronounced po-kay) is sweeping across the US - cubed fish or shellfish often yellow fin tuna or octopus with soy sauce, cucumber, spring onions, sesame oil served over rice. The taco craze continues unabated for 2017.
So there you have it, a few of the hot trends for 2017. And my advice for the year, for what it’s worth is Keep it Real. Eat a wide variety of real food and NO, food products are NOT the same as real food. We need lots of bio-diversity to feed and nourish our gut biome – the health of our gut flora has a phenomenal impact on both our mental and physical health.
When I say real, I mean unprocessed, unpasteurised organic, chemical free, vegetables directly from our garden or from a real farmer or gardener in your local Farmers or Country Market.
It's spring again and the 12-week course is in full swing - 13 nationalities this time. Dark and dreary when they arrived, but now the evenings are getting longer and the birds are singing and snowdrops, crocus and tiny daffodils are bursting in flower. For the past few weeks I've spent many cosy evenings by the fire flicking through seed catalogues, choosing varieties of vegetables, fruit and herbs to plant during the coming season. I can't wait for the ground to warm up enough to get some seeds planted. Our 12-Week Certificate students are equally impatient to get started. On the first day when they arrived, we showed them how to sow a seed and then gave them a lettuce seedling to plant into the ground so we've whetted their appetite to think about growing some of their own food. Every now and then one comes across a natural leader, a person with an impossible vision who has the tenacity and charisma to make their vision a reality against all the odds. Michael Kelly, founder of GIY Ireland is certainly such a person and it can be a tiny incident that sparks an idea – this whole movement which supports the growing efforts of 150,000 people and 6,000 food communities both in Ireland and the UK, all started with garlic.
Michael Kelly (Image Credit Ilovecooking.ie)
Michael was busily doing the food shopping one dark evening, not his favourite task, he picked up a bulb of garlic – 50 cents, he was outraged to discover that it had come ‘all the way from China’.
It set him thinking surely to goodness we could grow garlic in this country.
Out of this outrage was born, what is now one of the most important social grass roots movements in the country: GIY – Grow It Yourself. Michael shared his discovery with some of his friends; they decided to arrange a meeting to ‘test the waters’. Did others feel the same? Was there any interest in this topic? Was there a hunger for knowledge? Over 100 people turned up to the initial meeting in the Waterford Library one September evening in 2008, standing room only – obviously there was an appetite to learn what for some was a ‘forgotten skill’ for others a longed for skill to learn how to sow a seed and grow even a little of their own food.
Michael had inadvertently stumbled upon a longing, among a significant number of people to discover the magic of sowing a seed and having the satisfaction of watching it grow into something they could eat and feed to their families in the secure knowledge that it was nourishing, wholesome and free of chemicals. Since that small beginning in 2008, Michael and his messianic team many of whom have soldered by his side voluntarily since the very beginning has travelled up and down the country starting branches, organised eight
GIY Gathering Conferences in Waterford, supported over 6,000 local champions, inspired and encouraged and continued to dream. Michael was invited to deliver a DO lecture in Wales in 2012, during that event he became even more aware that the movement needed a headquarters, a centre where people could visit, see edible gardens bursting with vegetables, herbs and fruit, learn how to grow, eat and gather together to share the fresh seasonal food from the garden.
On the ferry boat back, he scribbled a ‘note to self’ on his pad – ‘must do, GIY HQ’ and stepped off the boat at Rosslare with an enhanced mission.
He shared his vision, it resonated with many people.
A vision is one thing, but raising €1.4 million to realise that vision is quite another – a massive fund raising campaign ensued over 4 years and on 8th October, GIY HQ was opened to a joyous reception from hundreds of supporters, well-wishers and local businesses and the passionate GIY team. It’s rare enough to find a work force so totally committed to an ideal as the group of twenty six super charged individuals who are overjoyed to be part of this project.
Michael thanked the myriad of people who had helped and supported his vision along the way but reserved extra special mention for Waterford County Council who had unanimously voted to donate the 3 acre site at Farronshoneen on Dunmore Road opposite the University Waterford Hospital and the Solas Centre to GIY.
Myself and Rory with Michael at the opening.
The sustainable building on was designed by Solearth Architecture and encompasses class room, café, shop and cooking school –and now the work really begins. Check out the Grow HQ website... and come and see him at this year's Litfest in May, at Ballymaloe.