As nutrition science advances, and our palates as consumers continues to change and evolve, food trends must follow suit. We no longer wish to know that bad ingredients have been taken out; we want to understand that the omitted bad ingredient was not replaced with something worse. We want to know the story about our food and how it impacts the environment. And we are much more health-conscious than before.
With that being said, rest assured that these latest food trends are focused on better health and nutrition and are environmentally friendly.
The leaves of the moringa oleifera tree contain high levels of calcium, potassium, protein, and vitamins A, B, C, D, and E. You can find these trees in Haiti, as well as parts of Latin America and Africa, although they can be grown in both tropical and temperate climates. Moringa leaves are produced year-round and can be eaten fresh, cooked, or dried without losing its nutritional content.
Currently, there is no fresh moringa commercially available in the U.S. because shipping from so far away can result in spoilage. But that doesn’t mean we won’t see commercial planting of moringa trees in the near future. For the time being, moringa is sold as a powder and is used in energy shots, bars and teas.
In addition, did you know that moringa is a product that helps empower women? In Ghana and Haiti, female farmers grow moringa as a means of supporting their families.
You have likely heard of “grass fed” in the food world, which basically means that your food does not come from cows raised in feedlots. But our thirst for knowledge goes beyond the animals’ diet; we want to understand the impact the animals have on the environment.
And thus we have regenerative agriculture, where different farming practices are used to restore soil degradation from crops. Of these practices is regenerative grazing, which refers to regenerating the topsoil by grazing cattle or bison on crop land (their manure and left-behind forage act as natural fertilizers).
You may soon see companies highlighting that their grass-fed beef was raised in a regenerative-grazing fashion, however, a verification system must be designed to verify that the claim has meaning.
Because government guidelines and regulations on foods are always changing, food companies are struggling to keep up and eliminate bad ingredients (ex. trans fatty acids, sugar, salt). Regardless of the effort, consumers tend to be wary of what is being added to the product, such as artificial ingredients.
Now, “clean labels” (which consist of ingredients consumers can understand and pronounce) are the goal. Food companies are experimenting with using natural ingredients to either diminish bad flavors or enhance good ones without simply substituting one bad ingredient for another.
For example, mushrooms are being used to cut the bitterness in cacao beans and decrease the amount of sugar needed to make chocolate, while soy protein and other natural flavors enhancers are being used to reduce sodium levels in food.
The popularity of coconut water has spurred the emergence of more plant waters. Aloe water, maple water, artichoke water and cactus water are taking down sugary sports drinks and artificially flavored waters since consumers are becoming more conscious of what they consume.
Market research from Technavio shows that U.S. soda sales fell for the 11th year in a row, while coconut water sales rose 27% last year.
While most of these waters are only available in health-food stores, some are likely to cross over to convenient stores. For example, maple water and cactus water are likely more appealing than artichoke water, since cactuses are known to contain water, and maple syrup is considered tasty by most.
Also, these waters boast more than just hydration benefits. Aloe vera juices are believed to aid in digestion and weight loss while cactus water is said to contain electrolytes and antioxidants.
Many dieticians state that Americans eat too much meat. However, when it comes to meat alternatives, many have grown tired of tofu. Luckily, vegans, vegetarians, people trying cut back on meat consumption, and foodies alike can turn to jackfruit.
Aside from “pulled pork” made from shredded jackfruit, a protein called heme that is extracted from yellow peas enhances the taste and texture of plants to make them more like meat (often used in plant-based burgers).
While different alternatives exist, jackfruit has the most promising future. With its meaty texture and ability to absorb flavors in which it is cooked, jackfruit offers a smart alternative with minimal processing.
As mentioned previously, cleaner food labels not only push for recognizable ingredients, but for natural food dyes as well. For red and yellow foods, paprika and turmeric have sufficed, however, blue and green have been difficult to achieve until now.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that’s often sold as a health supplement at vitamin shops or as an energy shot in smoothies. However, it is now being harvested for use as a natural blue-green dye and is already being used in foods including candy, gum, ice cream, cereal, and more. The use of spirulina as a natural food dye is expected to skyrocket in the next few years.
Visit the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli for yummy sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts today! We are open weekdays from 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays from 10:30am-4:30pm. We offer online ordering as well as catering services. Visit us online or call 909-596-5225 for more information.