2017 has come and gone like monsoon season. While our eyes and ears have been focused primarily on national, world, or political news (fake or otherwise), there have been a multitude of sweeping changes across the food industry. Here are six of the biggest food trends that we’ve seen in the past year.
6. Cauliflower is Now Cool
Okay, maybe not “cool” but it certainly is popular. The blander sibling of broccoli packs a boat-load of nutrients, making it incredibly versatile in recipes. Chefs are foregoing the traditional steam or boiled versions of cauliflower and instead choose to deep-fry, roast, sautée, mash, and butter the cruciferous vegetable. Cauliflower now takes the form of steaks, rice, soups, casserole, and more. The demand for this veggie stems from carbo-adverse eaters’ desire for a healthy alternative to white rice and gluten-filled grains. This new trend may be part of a larger movement where chefs aim to make vegetables the centerpiece of meals.
5. Legalized Edibles
Considered by many to be the source of the next big economic boom, legalized marijuana has slowly creeped up across the country. Currently with eight states that now offer the legal sale and possession of marijuana, the topic of the sticky plant has never been more covered and controversial. One of the most popular methods of ingesting pot is through the form of edible, bite-sized refreshments; companies and chefs are working to improve the taste and experience of edible marijuana snacks. Don’t expect anything nutritious as most of these ganja goodies take the form of sugary confections with CBD gummies and chocolates skyrocketing in popularity.
NOTE: Classic Cooking Academy does not support the edible consumption of marijuana.
4. Dipping Sauce Pandemonium
Whether it’s French fries, onion rings, or fried zucchini sticks, you’ll most likely be dipping your finger food of choice into a certain sauce. Yet, one dipping sauce claimed the condiment crown this year as the most overhyped fast food menu item: McDonald’s Szechuan Dipping Sauce. Originally released in 1998 for Disney’s Mulan promotions, this teriyaki-flavored dipping sauce gained momentous traction after being mentioned in the immensely popular cartoon Rick and Morty. For a limited time only, Mickey-Ds brought back the sauce on October 7th. Man-children formed lines, cops kept the peace, and riots nearly broke out as cartoon enthusiasts demanded – rather vehemently – to be served the sauce.
3. The Keto Diet
In terms of diets, there has been a major shift from those who have adopted the previously popular paleo diet (involving the consumption of foods that were only available during the Paleolithic era) to the new and upcoming ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet – or “keto” for short – involves drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat. The main idea of the keto diet is to limit the amount of glucose in the body as much as possible in order to create a fat-burning machine. With health benefits such as weight loss, controlled blood sugar, higher mental focus, increased energy, and reduced acne, the keto diet has found popularity amongst fitness nuts and Silicon Valley biohackers. Like many other diets, keto boasts a difficult one-to-two week adjustment phase known as the “keto flu.”
2. Edible Charcoal
If 2016 had rainbow-colored bagels, then 2017 had activated charcoal. Used both as a hygienic and nutritional product, activated charcoal gives off a deep, black hue to foods ranging from ice cream, breads, and even lemonade. As a potent detoxifier, activated charcoal has been used in hospitals to prevent poisons and lethal overdoses of drugs from being absorbed by the body. Though these properties make it good at adsorption (soaking up all the molecules in its path), activated charcoal is actually pretty bad at picking out what’s toxic and what isn’t. For example, if you eat activated charcoal in ice cream, the charcoal would suck up the calcium, potassium, and other vitamins, preventing your stomach lining from absorbing those nutrients and instead discarding them as waste alongside the charcoal.
1. The War on Sugar
Finally – finally – America is starting to come around on what truly causes many of our health issues. Not only is it a leading cause of obesity but according to Gary Taubes’ best-seller The Case Against Sugar, the sweet-tasting carbohydrate may also have a central role in Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and many common cancers. Even though global sugar consumption of sugar is up, US consumption has faltered, supported by companies who have dialed down the sugar content in processed foods, evidenced by major soda brands introducing sugarless sodas like Coca-Cola Zero Sugar (the new substitute for Coke Zero). However, there’s always a tradeoff: the lower the sugar content, the higher the faux sweetener content which may lead to side effects such as upset stomachs, blood sugar control issues, and increased risk of some types of cancer.