Sunday, May 12, 2013

Current Food Trends

Increased exposure to exotic foods and the awareness of how food impacts health seem to be the driving forces in what is trending now in food.   In the April issue of, “Food Technology,” magazine A. Elizabeth Sloan, President of Sloan Trends, Inc. discussed how American’s are eating in her article, “Top Ten Food Trends.”  The American demographic has been changing quite a bit especially over the last few decades.  Family meals are not so much the norm anymore as even those who live in classical family unit situations are eating their meals at separate timings.  Modern day busy lifestyles have much to do with this change.   Dining out, especially for millenials, is becoming much more of a treat than it used to be.  And consumers are seeking fresher food items to prepare at home.  
     Traditional American fare is losing its’ grasp as taste buds are expanding.  Consumers are seeking more exotic flavors to satiate the appetite.    They are looking towards world cuisine, as well as, artisanal foods to “upgrade” typical American foods like hamburgers, potato’s and beans to name a few.  Additionally, trendy ways to prepare foods such as sous vide and liquid nitrogen chilling are being sought in restaurants to add a punch of flavor to foods.   Frozen dinners are no longer in vogue as Americans who are eating alone at home are seeking freshly prepared or chilled meals. 
     Food consumers are looking towards fresher food products as they associate that with healthier eating.   They are steering away from foods with chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics and are leaning more towards certified organic food products.   Foods grown and harvested in the states are also preferred over imports.  Wording on labels that are making an impression with consumers are as follows: “cage free,” “grass fed,” “heart healthy,” “100% whole wheat,” “unprocessed,” and “preservative free.”  Consumers are also interested in foods with herbs, botanicals, prebiotics, vitamins and minerals in order to improve or maintain good health.  Products with ingredients that improve circulatory health, enable weight management, enhance muscle strength and help regulate blood sugar are in demand.   It is said that mothers are even more inclined to seek foods deemed healthier based on freshness, safety of consumption, and nutritional value.  
     As a whole, these insights are comforting to hear especially when you listen to the horror stories of Registered Dietitians of years past who have struggled to have whole wheat bread and fruit on the school lunch menu because parents thought their children would starve with such items on their lunch meal trays.   It appears that Americans are waking up to the face that food is the best medicine which is the realization that encouraged many to pursue careers as dietitians.  Hopefully this trend will grow as American’s begin to realize prevention is better than the cure.