Food Culture 2012

By Simone Demers Collins, PHEc

What are you planning to eat more of in 2012?  Do you have a new ‘superfood’ to add to your diet? Or have you had it with the weekly media recommendations of what will truly add ‘years to your life’, or generally make you healthier?

  1. According to the folks at the Hartman Group, if you are to stay ahead of what’s happening in the food world, or Food Culture of 2012, it’s important to read more than Bon Appetit and Saveur.  Have you heard or read any of these magazines – The Chef, Meatpaper, Lucky Peach, The Recipe Project, Imbibe, Condiment. Culture, Gastronomica, Edible Phoenix and Urban Farm?
  2. Secondly, the Hartman Group indicates that chefs are the educators of our time by being the ‘future leaning reflectors of where food flavours, preparations and health are headed.  This is as a result of TV programs like Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and certain speeches featured on TED.com.
  3. Food enthusiasts and chefs are more interested in ingredients than ever before – and according to Hartman this includes – purity, freshness, simplicity and ethics in cooking.
  4. With comments on the ‘chase’ for food trucks, Hartman’s says that consumers will continue to prize scarcity, the novel over the guaranteed sameness, and are willing to make a little more effort if the effort provides them with something that is more exciting and rare.
  5. Smaller is the ‘new’ right – better portions, better pricing, and if we don’t eat 4 or 5 smaller packages of the same thing, perhaps better for the environment.
  6. Steering away from the one-size-fits-all nutrition and wellness messaging of the past few decades, we will be hearing more about less processed, higher quality foods, and a greater focus on a person’s genetic makeup and their response to specific foods, ingredients and nutritional components.
  7. Consumers will continue to define health and wellness as a ‘high quality of life’.  There will continued comments about diets such as happiness, the paleolithic, or the rest and rejuvenation.
  8. The right kinds of fat will be recognized as making one healthier, smarter, more muscular, and leaner. Researchers like Walter Willett, Chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, say, “The idea that all fat is bad for you, the exclusive focus on adverse effects of fat may have contributed to the obesity epidemic…”
  9. The controversy over soy foods – soy analogues including soy milk, deli-style meats from isolated soy protein, are being shunned by consumers, whether their understanding of soy, its production, processing and/or nutritional benefits are understood or not.
  10. Candy jars on the office desk that has now replaced smoking at the#1 workplace-related health threat.
  11. Finally, the Hartman group discusses the bridging of wellness and culinary worlds. They believe that we will all develop an interest in herbology as we look to these as supplements to enhance regular dishes and our health.

So, whether you are trending in, or simply interested in ‘what’s next’ – consider how your weekly shopping list and menu plan is being influenced by any (or all) of these factors in our North American food culture.

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Simone Demers Collins is a professional home economist, living in Edmonton Alberta. She has her own consulting business which focuses on media, marketing, public relations & project management. Follow her daily at @learncanola.