What will you be dining on this year? Here are predictions from folks in the know

Those of us of an unmentionable age may have trouble recollecting the immediate past (for example, 3 minutes ago where did I put our reading glasses?),  but we can prognosticate about foods of the future, thanks to help from experts.


 What follows is the annual Shelf Life Advice predictions for this year. Take them seriously.  Looking back on our  past articles, we find that they've been pretty accurate. Examples:  bacon and sriracha added to almost everything.  Remember Burger King's bacon ice cream sundae? Believe it or not, I liked it.  Did curiosity get you to try sriracha, the hot sauce from Thailand, made with red chili peppers, garlic, and vinegar? Has your tongue recuperated yet?  Dilute it with mayonnaise, and it can perk up a piece of salmon.


Now, onward to the future. As you read, don't be surprised if you start to feel hungry. This year, as in past years, our taste buds will  enjoy novel stimulation.


From the following sources, we're primarily selecting those new edibles that sounded surprising and/or important to us. But you'll probably remember that some of these trends began a year or even a few  years ago; they're listed because, instead of fading away, they keep attracting even more fans  and showing up in more restaurants, supermarkets, and home dining room tables. We urge you to continue reading  even if you're not interested in expanding your dining out or cooking home repertoire; I guarantee your food vocabulary will grow.


Forecasts by Whole Food Markets experts (described in the New York Times):

Ÿ Uncommon meat and seafood:  You may be cooking or eating paiche, a huge fish from the Amazon basin, which, says the New York Times, "will be easing the pressure on popular picks like salmon, tuna and shrimp."  Whole Foods has a recipe online for preparing this novelty.


Ÿ Wine in  a can: At Whole Foods, I purchased a can of Pinot Gris made by Underwood.  It was slightly carbonated and tasty.  My salesman said he liked it, too. You can buy just one can to try it out.


Ÿ Even more fermented foods: Examples: kimchi, gochujang, and chiogga beet kraut.

Ÿ Even more dehydrated foods: kale chips will continue to appeal, but now also look for   dehydrated broccoli and brussel sprout and parsnip chips. 


Ÿ Even more wheat-free flours: Examples: chickpea flour (good for folks on a gluten-free diet) and veggie-based flours used to make pastas.


Ÿ Far East and Middle Eastern flavors: Just imagine Korean tacos and Thai curry cashews. 

Mentioned in Food Anthropology:

Artificial ingredients are declining in popularity, probably a good thing, but sugar intake is increasing, not only in the U.S. but worldwide. Other nations have picked up the American love of added sugar.  Let's face it--sugar makes these taste better.   (Throw a teaspoon into your tomato soup, and note how it  enhances other flavors.)  Some would have us believe that sugar is poison. Well, maybe if that's the only food you eat.


Discussed in the Berkeley Wellness Letter:


Jerky keeps cropping up in the above newsletter and many other articles on 2016 trends.  "What's jerky?"  you ask.  It's a dried meat snack that's been around almost forever.  But now this dehydrated, highly processed snack can be found in greater varieties.  You know them as beef sticks commonly sold in gas station  shops, but now they are being produced from ingredients such as "elk, ostrich, buffalo, alligator, venison, salmon, and tuna," according to Berkeley. And the beef ones may be exotically flavored with seasonings from around the world. 


The newsletter says consumers shouldn't assume they're healthful because they are high-protein, may be  made without additives, and may be organic. If you eat more than one, you may be consuming a lot of  salt, fat, and calories.  Most Americans don't need the high dose of protein jerky contains. They get enough in their diet without jerkies.  Furthermore,  consumers that purchase novel jerky (perhaps made with buffalo or tuna) that has no pesticides or additives will find that the price is upscale, too.


 From Forbes magazine:


One prediction here is that sriracha will continue to grow in popularity, but chefs will also be looking for newer ethnic flavors such as "ghost pepper from India, sambal from Southeast Asia, gochujang from Korea [also mentioned by Whole Foods experts], and harissa, sumac and dukka from North Africa." 


Growing fear of GMOs will prompt more consumers to demand labeling, not only on store packages but in restaurants as well.  The article predicts that GMOs will be a major headache for  food suppliers because many crops--especially soy fed to food animals--have been modified with GE ingredients to increase yields.


Another interesting development: restaurants may have a more difficult time attracting customers because of competing businesses such as food delivery from Uber or Amazon or the app service Munchery, "which will deliver restaurant-quality food from a commissary."


More competition threatening restaurants:


Making it much easier to cook at home are businesses that deliver all the ingredients and instructions necessary to prepare a gourmet meal at home.  For an example, check out BlueApron.com. A bit less extreme is what Real Simple meal planners offer. The company ran a full-page ad in Time magazine (the December 28 issue). Every Friday, it mails customers 5 easy recipes with a complete grocery list. At least, that eliminates hunting for recipes and creating a grocery list.


Food trends for 2016 from supermarket guru Phil Lempert:


Lempert is the food trends editor for NBC's “Today.” He points out that consumers buy food more often than anything else. His predictions for the new year tell us that how and where  we buy food will change, along with some changes in what we're shopping for.  For example, we'll tend to be less loyal to particular brands and to supermarkets.  Smaller "micro-stores" (neighborhood grocers) are showing up.  He expects the following past trends to continue to be a big selling point: local, health/wellness, and sustainability.  We'll also continue to look for new kinds of protein, such as "nut flours and even cricket flour in items such as protein bars." Click here for more of Phil Lempert's 2016 predictions.


Trends from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT):


IFT's members include food scientists and businesses in the food industry.  The organization's annual predictions are created by the editors of IFT's publication, Food Technology.  Here are some of them:


Ÿ A smartphone will be an "indispensable tool" in  helping us satisfy our food needs.  It can do all of the following and more: "order and purchase foods, find grocery and restaurant deals, count calories, provide nutrition knowhow, suggest recipes, replace mom for cooking advice, share memorable culinary experiences, connect farmers with retailers  and restaurants, and reduce food waste through redirecting surpluses to those in need."


Ÿ We'll find more "portion-controlled snacks and ready-to-eat salad kits complete with exotic ingredients like hemp seeds and edamame."


Ÿ IFT editors reiterate the messages from other food experts: spicy flavors are "in." These include chipotle, peri-peri, harissa, and Southeast  and Asian sambal sauce, made with chilies, rice vinegar, and garlic  [which sounds similar to sriracha].  Peruvian chilies, paired with lime, are also headed for a big year, as is chia seed mixed with citrus, chili, and garlic.


Ÿ Pulses (dried peas, chickpeas, lentils, and dried beans) are getting more attention as consumers search for healthy sources of protein and nutrients, with an emphasis upon protein from plants rather than animals. "Pulse" is a Latin word meaning "thick soup"; pulses are the edible seeds of legumes (plants with fruit enclosed in a pod).


ŸAncient (ancestral) flavors:  Modern dishes are being enhanced with ancient herbs  such as rosemary, thyme, peppermint, parsley, and lavender.


Even if the trends discussed in this article don't alter what you cook at home, they will affect what you find on restaurant menus.  If you're open to developing a more international palate, you'll find yourself consuming something a lot spicier than oatmeal.



Ethics and Eating


The following words and phrases tell manufacturers what many consumers and advocacy groups are demanding: transparency, "clean" labels, minimally processed foods, and morally conscious foods.  The message is that a growing number of consumers want to know exactly what's in the food they're buying; they want fewer additives [such as artificial coloring]; they want foods that are closer to their natural  state; they want to know how  and where their foods are made or grown.  They don't want highly processed, genetically modified edibles.  They want the food they buy to be in line with their own moral values. (They want food animals to have a comfortable life and a quick, relatively painless death.) They want the entire food industry to function in ways that protect planet Earth. Perhaps most important, , they want food that will not cause illnesses, either short-term or long-term. (They don't want pesticides on their produce.) However, some of these matters involve complex science, so there is disagreement about how to achieve these goals and even which are worth pursuing.


The Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center (FAPC) has posted a list of 16 food trends that  are not about specific foods but deal with the types of goals mentioned above.  The article begins by saying this: "Food safety, healthy eating, food waste and big flavors are on the menu for 2016."


And, finally, this year, there's an emphasis on what's becoming known as "waste-based cooking."  The idea is to turn as much as possible of an edible plant or food animal into something delicious. Ethical concerns support this idea: 70 billion pounds of food go to waste each year, says an article entitled "The Next Kale? The Foods You're Going to Be Hearing about Constantly in 2016." Cutting down on waste could mean a reduction in land fills and an increase in amount of food available to feed the hungry. Empty stomachs don't care if dinner is trendy or not. 




nytimes.com "Whole Foods Market® Experts Forecast Top 10 Food Trends for 2016 "

December 21, 2015



ift.org "Food Technology  "Editors predict trends for 2016," December 30, 2015



forbes.com "How 10 Food Trends for 2016 Will Transform  Restaurants" 10/28/15



pulsecanada.com "What is a Pulse?" 



blueapron.com "Discover a Better Way to Cook" 



foodanthro.com "What Food Anthropology is Reading Now: January 3rd Edition"



fapc.biz/news  "FAPC picks top 16 food trends for 2016"



www.thrillist.com "The Next Kale?  The Foods You're Going to Be Hearing About Constantly in 2016."



University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, "What a jerky," January 2016.


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