Every decade, every year, and even every season, new food trends pop up and spread like wildfire, spawning countless social media posts, recipe variations, and cultural memes. Whether it’s cauliflower or kale chips, avocado toast or poke bowls, these trends come and go year after year, and sometimes even come back again. While some trends, like the “unicorn” rainbow food coloring trend of 2017, seem like an arbitrary fad or marketing stunt, many are based around health or moral issues, showing an increased degree of popular awareness around the importance of food and the systems built to produce it.
But food trends can also be big business, as the food industry races each year to predict the next big thing foodies will want to put on their plates or in their smoothies. In the past, most of the biggest food trends came out of the kitchens of the world’s top chefs, but these days they can come from just about anywhere, from the latest scientific and nutritional research to Instagram trends and grassroots environmental campaigns. With the increase in global travel we see in much of the world, many food trends also come from the dishes and ingredients people discover on their journeys, increasing the demand for them as they return back home.
From Melbourne to Milan, Buenos Aires to Barcelona, hyper-local food has become a serious trend in fine dining restaurants, street-food stalls, and neighborhood eateries around the world. But just how local is hyper-local ? According to this trend, distance from farm to table is measured in feet or meters rather than kilometers or miles. Even in the most dense urban environments, neighborhood rooftop gardens and hydroponic farms are springing up to meet the growing demand for hyper-local ingredients. Food produced in the same neighborhood as the table it’s eaten on means far less carbon emissions and other negative environmental effects. Luckily for foodies, that closeness to harvest also means better freshness and taste.
One of the most recent dietary trends to emerge is something called peganism . But what, exactly, is a pegan? No, it’s not someone who can only eat peas, as you might guess. It’s probably best described not by what you can eat but what you can’t : processed foods, sugars, starches, pesticide-laden foods, most fruits, wheat, grains, and refined carbohydrates. First coined in 2014 by physician and author Mark Hyman, the word ‘pegan’ is a cross between paleo and vegan. Sound like an oxymoron? Hyman concocted peganism around the health benefits of eating natural, organic foods, and as it turns out, peganism isn’t actually vegan, nor does it emphasize meat like paleo does. Pegans eat mostly plants, and use animal protein more like a ‘condiment’ than a main ingredient.
Peganism may not have anything to do with peas, but another popular food trend is all about the humble legume. Pea milk and oat milk have overtaken soy, rice, hemp, and almond as the trendiest vegan milks to add to shakes, smoothies, coffees, and have become key ingredients in some of the best vegan food recipes. Pea milk is made from the equally-trendy pea protein, an excellent source of bio-available protein and iron. Oat milk, as you might guess, is made from oats, and people seem to love it for baking and lattes alike. Expect to see pea milk and oat milk in coffee houses, ice-cream cones, juice shops, and vegan desserts near you, if you haven’t already.
While bread may be a serious ‘no-no’ according to the pegan diet, it’s experiencing a resurgence among home bakers on the hunt for tasty, artisanal dough recipes. Sourdough, especially, is making a big comeback, with trendy sourdough pizza restaurants and bakeries popping up in major cities around the world and custom, temperature-controlled proofing boxes fetching large sums. Fermented products have been all the rage for years now, from kombucha to craft beer to kimchi, and sourdough bread , with its unique, strong flavor profile and purported health benefits (sourdough is easier to digest for those with wheat and gluten intolerances) may be here to stay. For now.
Last but not least, CBD is trending as an ingredient in everything from baked goods to bubble gum to fancy teas and infusions. One of the most important non-psychoactive components of the cannabis plant, CBD is gaining popularity for a range of health benefits, including aiding digestion, anxiety, pain, and sleep issues. Following the relaxed legal approach to cannabis in many parts of the world, CBD foods and drinks are now a major food trend: CBD and ginger water infusions, CBD cocktails, CBD lattes, and even CBD-infused dishes at fine-dining restaurants are cropping up around the world.