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Foody IS Trendy

With the holiday season upon us, it is time to once again get in the kitchen and do some serious

cooking. This made me stop and question- what are the latest and greatest trends in food? To really appreciate where we are, let’s look at where we have been in the US over the last 30 years. The 1980’s we saw indulgence and gluttony in many industries (including food), the motto was “Shop till you Drop” (also the title of a long-running game show that aired on the Family Channel and Lifetime cable networks-  and was about quantity, not quality.The 1990’s brought on fads- we entered a world of lava lamp looking soda (Orbitz fruit drinks), and cardboard covered in sauce and fake cheese (Bagel Bites). Luckily, as we entered in to 2000 we saw the rise of stars like Rachel Ray who encouraged the public to eat homemade meals and showed them how to make them quickly. This decade also brought the rise of the “Low Carb diet”. “In February 2004, nearly one in 10 respondents to one survey said they were following a low-carb diet;  by 2005, that number dropped to 2%”. Although it didn’t last long, that trend would be part of the foundation for what we are seeing now.

The trends jumping to the scene these days? Organic! Yes, since 2006 the growing trend in the US has been to eat organic. This movement has an impact on the environment and our ability to maintain crop production. By eliminating the use of pesticides and cutting down the water and electrical needs, farmers are able to use the same land for a longer amount of time and eliminate the need for burn offs. The gigantic retailer Walmart even got onboard with the organic move by “stocking quality organic products at good ole Wal-Mart prices: just 10% more than their conventional foods. According to the Organic Trade Association, annual sales of organic food hit $24 billion by 2009, a more than fivefold increase from a decade earlier.”. I wonder what someone 100 years ago would say about organic food being a “trend”?
Many consumers have decided to take the organic trend one step further. Rather than popping into their nearby grocer or Walmart, they are shopping at their local farmer’s market and setting up community supported agriculture (CSA) accounts with the farmer’s of their area. So organic then spawned another trend- Shopping Local!
What does this mean for the consumer? Awesome food. Local farmers have the ability to grow food in a way that industrial farmers cannot. Their focus can be on maximizing taste, color, richness, texture, juciness- everything you want your food to be and more, rather than having to worry about how to ship and package the food. Often times, fruits and vegetables are harvested up to a week before they are put on the shelves of a supermarket and can travel over 1000 miles to get there! This makes it very difficult for the produce to offer optimum nutrients to the consumer. “USDA researchers have found that if it’s not handled properly, produce can lose up to half its nutrients in transit. Water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin C are particularly vulnerable.
With organic and local being the up and coming trends in the 2000’s its not surprising that in 2009 with an economic crisis on our hands, we saw the country turn it’s back on eating out and embrace making food themselves. Zagat.com reported in 2009 that 61% of almost 7,000 people surveyed were making the switch from lunches out to brown bags and dinners at a restraunt to cooking at home with their families. Will America ever follow the “slow cook” trend that Italy has seen in years past? I personally doubt it. Slow food was introduced because of the feeling that fast food was ruining the way of life in the Mediterranean. The movement focuses on shopping local everyday and preparing food in traditional recipes while sharing time with loved ones. I think this is a beautiful idea, one that should be at the heart and soul of all food that is prepared. For food isn’t just a way to nourish one’s body but a way to nourish one’s heart. So as exciting as the food industry has become in the US, I think we must stop to appreciate how far we have come and simply give the consumer’s time to appreciate what could be next.
by: Catherine Grimm Lauper
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