If you told me two years ago that food trends in the coming years would include a boom in breadmaking, the return of breakfast cereal and fusion cuisines like Mexican Korean, I would say you’d been watching too much Netflix. But then, who knew the last two years would be all about watching too much Netflix?
I read an article this week about the boom that Kelloggs is facing since people working from home began eating their cereals again to start the day, and it got me thinking. I discovered there were some interesting evolutions in our eating behaviour through this crazy time.
It will not surprise anyone, I’m sure, to know that snack food consumption rose in the first year. But then after sitting at home and gaining “the quarantine 15”, we evolved to a healthier pattern with these new trends:
• Low-carb snacks, fueled by the keto movement (avocado fries, cauliflower crust pizza)
• Streaming home fitness programs and superfood nutritional supplements that support mental health too (green tea, kefir, and all kinds of powders and capsules)
• Alternative sugars that are less processed (maple sugar, cane sugar) and more honey
The trend towards plant-based eating was already underway, but it has advanced dramatically. It has expanded far beyond burgers and Buddha bowls to include these creative ingredients:
• Mushrooms, herbs and roots have become a popular addition
• Seed and nut butters have exploded in use and variety – have you heard of watermelon seed butter?
• Chickpeas are not just for hummus anymore, but used in everything from snacks to dessert
• Plant-based substitutes for meat and cheese are expanding into new options (plant jerky, anyone?)
These trends are rather easy to predict. I was especially interested to read about the more innovative developments that occurred. Here are just a few:
• Cooking oils now go far beyond olive oil, canola and coconut. Perhaps you used avocado or hemp oil already. How about pumpkin seed oil? Different flavours and health benefits are making people venture past the usual.
• Fusion cuisine has taken on new popular members that may not seem obvious combinations until you remember we have been sitting at home dreaming of going…. Anywhere. Then a Korean taco sounds like fun, and Chinese Peruvian stirfry could be a great new comfort food.
• Restaurants diversifying in new ways became the norm. Survival instinct led to grocery store operations offering ingredients, pantry items like signature condiments and spice blends on offer, and even meal kits to go.
The trends I was most happy to see were the ones that led us back to connect with our food and our community. I truly hope these won’t be fads that fade out, but rather a new lifestyle we adopt.
• Eating and supporting local farms and restaurants became a familiar slogan that gathered steam. Understanding sustainability is now more at the forefront of many conversations.
• We took the concept of outdoor dining to a whole new level. Social distancing made us get creative; eating in bubbles when the weather didn’t cooperate and enjoying everything from picnics to haute cuisine was on the menu.
• Destination meals have also jumped in popularity. For whatever options are available beyond our own communities, we are heading out for unique experiences to make up for being cooped in so long.
There are not as many people baking sourdough bread (I see banettons on sale right beside the hand sanitizer now). I don’t know if the uptick in home canning will continue. I’d like to think so, but we all have our priorities. I just hope that the focus on food we got from not having much else to do but cook and eat will stay positive.
Thanksgiving this year could be a very profound occasion.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.