New Food Trends – In your Backyard

Kiwis grown in Charlotte? Local farmers are using unique methods to extend the seasons for some crops. You’ll see kiwi, rhubarb, citrus, herbs and even some spices that until now have been considered “exotic” to our area.

Lynn Caldwell is the Manager at the indoor, year-round Atherton Market and serves on the CharMeck Food Policy Network.

Every foodie and food writer likes to predict trends for the year ahead.  Culinary trends are often recycled or reinvented, like the rise and fall of hemlines… which fortunately for some of us seem to be descending again.  General food trends and local food trends sometimes overlap, but because sourcing locally has been conspicuously identified as an overall trend to watch in 2012, it is worth discussing why this might just be the year of the Locavore.  Here are my predictions:

  1. More prepared foods made with healthful, local ingredients. As a culture we couldn’t be any busier, and I don’t see that changing in the near future.  “Meals to go” will get a facelift this year with fresh offerings, and restaurant quality food that transcends takeout.
  2. Season extension. Farmers are using more and more methods like high tunnels, greenhouses, and planting cold and heat tolerant varieties of crops to provide tomatoes in December and kale in June. You’ll see kiwi, rhubarb, citrus and herbs and even some spices that until now have been considered “exotic” to our area.

    Farm fresh eggs could be straight from your backyard.

  3. More urban homesteading. Gear up to gather eggs from your backyard chickens and farm your edible landscape.  Just don’t bump the beehive on your way out to forage for wild things.

  4. Using lesser known cuts of meat – “nose to tail.” Literally.  It will require knowing growers who can get you the nose and the tail, but snout and feet will become all the rage.  Incorporated into haute charcuterie, among other things.
    Read more of Lynn’s predictions ‘below the fold.

  5.  Austerity cooking. Frugality is the new normal. Somewhat related to #4. Let’s face it – the economy isn’t exactly rebounding with vigor.  Yet we still want a relationship with the source of our food.  Local is not inaccessible.  It just requires some creativity in the kitchen.  Prices at the farmers markets are holding steady, while grocery prices continue to rise. You won’t be dining daily on filet mignon and truffles.  But your birthday wouldn’t be special if it was every day either.

    Pickled... everything! Look for more things to be pickled in 2012.

  6. Pickled things.  Using fermentation to preserve the harvest.  Party-worthy or consumed on a regular basis, these vittles are actually good for you in moderation.
  7. And lest we forget about the drink, we’ll see more locally sourced beverages.  We already have some great choices like Uncle Scott’s Root Beer.  But look for more shelf-stable options to wet your whistle.
  8. More dads shopping and in the kitchen. This changes the target demographic for local markets a bit to appeal to the macho shopper.  Along with this comes a more intense focus on kids, nutrition and making food fun.  What could be more fun than watching Dad try to find something creative to do with all that kale?
Throw out the recipes.  This is the year that you learn to cook with your senses.  Eat smaller portions.  When you use good ingredients you won’t need or want to overeat.  Know the people who grow and produce your food.  The local food trends of 2012 will not only taste great, they hold promise for a better tomorrow.

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Filed under At the Market, Healthy Eating, Sustainable Food, The Foodie's Garden

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