Thursday, December 11, 2014

Trendspotting for Foodies

As 2014 draws to a close – and the sooner the better, from where I stand – my thoughts have turned to what to be on the lookout for in 2015.

Will my L.L. Bean and Talbot’s duds still be on the cutting edge of fashion?

Once I get around to putting in that tempered glass counter top in the kitchen, will it turn out that the trend-meisters were wrong about granite being the new cardboard?

Will Canasta be making a comeback, or will this just be in my narrow circle?

And, most important, there’s the food front.

Will Greek yogurt still rule? Can I take kale off my learn-how-to-live-with list? Will Caprese sandwiches remain a menu staple?

None of those particular questions (except, maybe, the yogurt one) were answered in a recent piece on Huffington Post. But I did learn was what “the hottest food trends of 2015, brought to you in partnership with ConAgra Foods and Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert.”

Now I’m not quite sure I want to trust my trendspotting to the likes of ConAgra. Their brands seem to be pretty anti-trend: Swiss Miss, Chef Boyardee, Slim Jim, Reddi-Whip, and Jiffy Pop. Not to mention Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Blue Bonnet Margarine, both household staples when I was growing up, but products I didn’t know still existed.

And I wasn’t familiar at all with Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert.

I guess I’ll just have to accept that he is, in fact, a bona fide Supermarket Guru.

What do Phil and the mavens at ConAgra predict is in store for us?

Gluten free is – at last – so yesterday.  Which is too bad for folks like my husband, who had celiac disease. The elective gluten-free-ers will, I guess, move on to the next.

If there’ll be fewer new GF foods, what can we expect to see on the shelves next year? Fermented foods, like yogurt and sauerkraut.

Personally, I’d never use the words “yogurt” and “sauerkraut” in the same sentence, but, apparently, because fermented foods are such a digestive aide, and help us absorb nutrients. Looks like I’ll have start trending off of cottage cheese, and back on to Greek yogurt. Sauerkraut, nein danke.

Smoked everything will be making more appearances as well. We won’t be seeing just smoked meats, but “vegetables, cheese and even cocktails.” And if you don’t have a backyard smoker, well, you’d better be asking Santa for one.

Not a big smoked anything fan, so I have no intention of being the first person on Beacon Hill with a backyard smoker. (Let alone put an indoor version in my dream kitchen, if and when I get moving on that project.)

There are a number of generational predictions.

Us old geezers will become old grazers, picking throughout the day rather than sitting down for three squares. Boomers will be munching on snacks that are protein rich, full of fiber, and promote our bone health with Omega 3s. I don’t see myself snacking on fish oil supplements – they’re no Cheet-os, that’s for sure. But you never know.

Generation Z  - those born after 1995 – supposedly “most enjoy cooking simple, healthy meals with fresh ingredients.”

Maybe it’s just me, but the Gen Z-ers I know are either eating what their moms put on the table, what’s on offer through their campus meal plan, or cooking up a simple, not especially healthy, bowl of ramen noodles.

We also learn that Miillennials, those monkeys in the middle between the Boomers and Gen Z, will be looking for craft foods, items that are unique and of “authentic origin.”

I am going back and forth about whether I dislike the term “craft food” more than I dislike the term “artisanal food.” Decisions, decisions. If I throw in “house made”, which I increasingly see on restaurant menus, there’s no contest: worst in its class is definitely “house made.” (Artisanal gets a pass because it’s so often misspelled as “artesian.”)

More and more information will be at the fingertips of shoppers, so we can get all the skinny – and the fat – on the craft foods we’re grazing on. And, if we don’t want to lug it all home in our handy-dandy shopping carts (geezers) or our Patagonia backpacks (GenZ), same day delivery will be everywhere.

My favorite trend is that the supermarket will become spaces for socializing. And not just socializing over how to gauge the freshness of a cantaloupe.  Supermarkets will be opening restaurants, hosting seminars, running cooking classes.

Sure, if you’re Whole Foods, or Wegman’s, or some other upscale super-duper market. Not so likely if you’re a regular old grocery store where people, ah, come to by ground beef, and lettuce, and Rice Krispies, and clementines, and a gallon of milk.

Folks who shop there aren’t looking to graze. They aren’t that concerned with whether the food is craft. They just want to fill their cart, check out, and go home and make dinner for the kids. Same day delivery? They’ve already got that covered. DIY.

So much for the 2015 food trends…

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