Looking ahead: Food trends of 2012

It’s food trend-predicting time!

Yes, it’s that time of year when food and nutrition forecasters at Publicis Consultants USA predict the eating habits of Americans in the year to come. Here we take a look at each of the 12 forecasted trends and offer up suggestions on how to decide whether or not they’re up your alley.

1. Perpetual Snacking
Smaller portions and mini-bites will invade restaurant menus and grocery stores.

We love small plates!  Check out tapas bar Tia Pol in NYC, Asian gastropub Pubbelly in Miami Beach, or Lolo in San Francisco for scrumptious small plates and mini bites.

Chinois by Woflgang Puck

2. Global Food Mash-Up
Millennials will “travel the world” through eating and drinking inexpensive culturally mixed foods.

Fusion: It started in the eighties and we’re still not over it.  And, call us Old School, but Chinois by Wolfgang Puck in Santa Monica is still one of our favorites.

3. The Connected Table
Geo-targeting apps, recipe commenting, crowd-sourced restaurant reviews and tweets between bites will mean you’re never alone.

Our pick?  The new Alfred app for iPhone, which acts like a sort of Pandora Radio for eating out, data-mining your dining tastes to make personalized restaurant recommendations.

Monterey County Chardonnay

4. Wine Cred
Desiring fresh value-priced experiences, consumers will discover and share wines from lesser known growing regions.

Hooray for undervalued wine regions!  It’s about time the masses got to know the wines of Priorat, the Loire, Monterey County, California, and South Africa, as well as German Rieslings and Argentine Malbecs.  Next time you reach for another bottle of Napa Cab or Burgundy, think twice.  A good reference is A Taste of Terroir on the Cheap” in Food & Wine Magazine.

5. Pop-ular Popcorn
Popcorn is healthful, convenient, natural, versatile and affordable.

The aroma of fresh, stove-popped popcorn is one from our childhood…and once you’ve done it yourself, you’ll never go back to those over-salted, creepy bags of Orville Redenbacher from the grocery store. Here’s a great recipe to get you started.


6. In-Your-Face Nutrition
Front-of-pack labeling, nutrition disclosure on menus and calorie counting mobile apps will make nutrition messaging hard to escape.

The Fooducate app allows you to scan the barcode of any food in the supermarket and see the facts in black and white, as well as a commentary on what’s hidden inside and possible healthier alternatives.

7. Grow-it, Raise-it, Pick-it, Eat-it
From backyard beehives, chicken coops and heirloom veggie gardens to home brewing and at-home canning, hyper-local will come home.

A few good books to inspire your own hyper-local movement include Sunset’s One Block Feast, Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, and Country Wisdom and Know-How.

8. Dining In Goes Beyond Comfort
New supermarket products and chef-inspired tools and techniques will help take in-home dining beyond traditional comfort fare.

If you’ve ever used a Silpat baking liner or Global kitchen knife, you know just what a difference a professional chef’s tool can make in the kitchen.


9. Barramundi, the Next Sustainable Seafood
This Australian import’s delicate flaky flesh is extremely low in toxin levels, but full of heart and brain-healthy omega-3s. Expect it on menus and then in packaged foods.

To find out for ourselves just how eco-friendly and healthful barramundi really is, we turned to our beloved Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch report.

10. Turmeric, the Real “Spice of Life”
Expect to see a lot of this bright yellow spice, which contains high levels of antioxidants and touts anti-inflammatory properties.

Modern day science is only just now discovering what the ancient Indian medicine of Ayurveda has known for centuries!  But no matter: we’ll happily take our recommended dose of turmeric in a Thai or Indian curry without complaint.

11. A Health and Wellness Gender Gap Grows
Women will continue to take active strides to improve their health by eating healthy and staying active. Men will lag further behind.

As if improved health and stamina were not valuable enough reasons to eat better and stay active, consider this dose of reality: According to Denise Reynolds RD of EMaxHealth.com, it affects our pocketbooks, too.  “There continues to be a wage gap between those who are of a healthy weight and those who are obese, especially among women,” she reports in her article “Obesity Affects Personal Finances, Especially Among Women.”

Michael Pollan

12. Tell Me What I Can Eat, Not What I Can’t!
An overload of hype will lead to a positive tone in messaging as consumers will seek delicious products that proactively enhance health and wellness.

Sorry to be the bearers of news you already know, but the best foods to eat are those that don’t include a nutrition guide like fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy.  As Michael Pollan states in his latest book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, “Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.”  Seems simple enough to us.

1 Comment

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One response to “Looking ahead: Food trends of 2012

  1. Very insightful article about food trends for 2012. I plan to take full advantage of the popcorn trend.. instead of butter try hot sauce for a spicy low-fat treat!

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