Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 Food Trends

And now, the trends ...

1. Going local
We told you so. Last year, the Post-Gazette predicted that consumers would think hard about the food supply, would want to know their sellers and producers and would demand food that is fresh, local and sustainably grown. In 2008, expect that trend to go mainstream. More of us will shop at the stores that respect our needs. More of us will show up at farmers markets and spend more time in the kitchen, cooking from scratch. Or at least assembling good-for-you meals.

The trend for local is being picked up by food manufacturers as well. Ready meals made with ingredients from the same region in which the product is sold are hitting stores. Food writers and pundits are turning their attention to this hot topic, following the lead of Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," and Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle."

Expect consumers to put pressure on manufacturers and restaurant chains as they realize their power comes from a vote with their forks and shopping carts.

2. Vegetarian
This trend will continue to grow. Mark Bittman, author and journalist, just put out his latest tome: "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food." When asked why he wrote such a comprehensive book on vegetarian cooking, Mr. Bittman said he "was seeing the handwriting on the wall" and that "the days of all meat, all the time ... could not go on." Even Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" was re-released this year -- after having sold more than 300,000 copies during the past decade. For some, going veggie will be a passing fad. For others, it'll be a life-changing habit.

3. Green

Green-itude is rampant. Homeowners and eateries alike will be pressured to reuse, recycle, use renewable resources and seek sustainably grown products. The National Restaurant Association has set up a Green Task Force. Soon you'll see visible rightousness showing up as menus printed on recycled paper, uniforms made out of wholly natural materials and a decrease in bottled waters. Come on, people, think of your planet!

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