Ghosts and ghouls are already sharing shelf space with turkeys and Santas, but there is one bigger indicator that the retail calendar is now moving at breakneck speeds. Trend reports, once a media mainstay of the pre-Thanksgiving week, are now starting popping up well before Halloween.
At least in the food world, it’s a welcome change. After all, the coming holiday season is a whirlwind of entertaining. No one wants to be caught serving last year’s legumes with this year’s must-eat meat substitutes.
As usual, Whole Foods Market is ahead of the charge with its fifth annual roundup of upcoming culinary trends. Compiled by the company’s buyers and resident buyers, it provides a roadmap into chic holiday dining and beyond.
Though the phrase may be new to the foodie lexicon, the various farming practices under the regenerative agriculture umbrella have been around for hundreds of years. As part of an overall movement towards transparency, savvy shoppers are now wanting to know if farmers use techniques that enrich soil, aid biodiversity, and improve watersheds. Brands are following suit, whether they make tortilla chips, cheese, essential oil, or wine.
In 2020, wheat flours will be as passé as Uggs and Juicy Couture. Instead, bakers will be using alternative flours made from ingredients like teff (the grass traditionally used in Ethiopian injera), cauliflower, tigernut, or banana. These “super” flours add a protein and fiber oomph to the average muffin — and taste delicious no matter what.
Foods from West Africa
The iconic flavors of West African cooking are undeniably electric and shaped modern American cuisine. By all means, diners should happily dip fufu in peanut soup and enjoy the smokey sizzle of jollof rice. What they shouldn’t do is diminish the culinary heritage of hundreds of millions of people by labeling it a mere “trend.”
Out-of-the-box, into-the-fridge snacking
With the assortment of salty chips, deceptive nutrition bars, and pressed cheese logs available at most stores, it’s no wonder snacking has such a bad name. But Whole Foods says the category will soon see a renaissance in the refrigerated section. Think hard-boiled eggs with savory toppings, pickled vegetables, fresh dips, and drinkable soups. Even bars are getting fresher with the addition of raw fruits and vegetables. All of it is a boon to customers who get hangry in the afternoon.
Plant-based, beyond soy
Soy you later. The vegan staple is taking a back seat to creative alternatives in the upcoming year. The trend is especially taking hold in the supplement aisle where mung bean, hempseed, pumpkin, avocado, and golden chlorella are subbed in as a way to avoid the common allergen. Meat alternatives and and classic condiments are also getting into the act. Why bust out the Kikkoman when you could have Ocean’s Halo organic no soy soy-free sauce?
Everything butters and spreads
In the future, only goobers will dip their paws in a jar of crunchy Jif. Watermelon seeds and macadamias are being made into newfangled spreads. Even chickpeas are taking a break from hummus. The trend is partly being driven by the paleo and keto crazes, but there is also environmental impact as brands eschew the use of ingredients like palm oil that can cause pollution.
Rethinking the kids’ menu
Kids may be driving JoJo Siwa’s career, but when it comes to food, they have a much more sophisticated palate. Fermented, spiced, and umami dishes are no longer off the table and alternative flours are reshaping pasta. And while chicken nuggets and fish sticks may always be popular among small fries, now they are organic and made without breading. Babies are also becoming epicures with wild caught salmon and pea basil puree pouches. Maybe it’s all those repeat viewings of Ratatouille.
Like flours, sweeteners are getting a makeover as syrupy reductions from monk fruit, pomegranates, and coconut take the baton from agave nectar, stevia, and honey. For a deeper, molasses-like flavor, bakers can try concentrates made from sorghum or sweet potato. And coffee drinkers looking for a cup-to-cup, non-glycemic replacement for regular sugar can try Swerve, a product that combines erythritol (a common sugar alcohol food additive) with ingredients from fruit and root vegetables.
A Depression-era idea is finding new currency with home cooks bulking up burgers and meatballs with a variety of veggies and grains. Though Americans first adopted the practice as a matter of economy, today the trend is being guided by the benefits of plant-based diets. Adding mushrooms and other “fillers” to meat cuts fat and cholesterol and sneaks in additional nutrients — all without sacrificing the beefy taste.
Carbonated or not, nonalcoholic beverages can often seem flat. Now, a new generation of booze-less sippers is borrowing distilling techniques to give the market some buzz. From zero-proof “liquors” to beverages infuses with botanicals and hops, today’s mocktails are just as spirited as their more spirited cousins.