A lot of great things happened this year in the food world.
We saw the growth of craft breweries, the comeback of McDonald’s with its all-day breakfast, and countless food companies promising to drop preservatives and artificial additives in coming years.
But there are some food trends we’re ready to kiss goodbye as 2015 draws to close--and others we're waiting for with bated breath.
While it was hard to choose, we narrowed down five food trends we're happy to usher out and five we want to bring on now.
FIVE 2015 FOOD TRENDS WE'RE READY TO KISS GOODBYE
1. Mashups everywhere.
From lobster donut rolls to Girl Scout Cookie-flavored beer, we saw foods that should never have met. Did the world really need Pizza Hut’s Hot Dog Bites Stuffed Crust Pizza? Or what about Carl’s Jr’s All-American Burger which had a split hot dog piled onto a cheeseburger on a bed of crunchy potato chips? Probably not. Mashups can be a beautiful thing, when done correctly. Let’s hope for more style than slop in 2016.
2. Overhyped waters.
H2O is the building block of life—which probably makes it a very easy thing with which to tinker. In 2015 we saw Bulletproof’s FATWater—fruit flavored water with droplets of MCT oil derived from coconut oil that purportedly boosts energy and promotes weight loss. Then there was birch water, touted as the next coconut water. While these products, and many others, taste pretty good, science has pretty much confirmed that the best thing to quench to your thirst is plain old water.
Hear us out, kale- diehards. The fad is over. It’s not even the most “nutritious” vegetable you can buy per ounce. In June, the CDC ranked 47 of America’s most common fruits and vegetables and watercress, Chinese cabbage, swiss chard, beet greens and spinach all blew kale away. So let’s experiment with some different leafy greens next year.
4. Bacon-flavored everything.
October’s World Health Organization report blasting bacon and other processed meats for being carcinogenic was a shock to the system for anyone who’s been eating bacon three times a day. America’s love affair with bacon has been riding high for years. But the proliferation of this salty fatty meat has become so ubiquitous it's turning our stomachs. The world doesn't need bacon candles, boxer shorts or cupcakes either.
5. “Healthy” candies and meal bars.
Despite efforts to define terms, there is still much confusion around words like "healthy", "low-calorie" and "natural." In April, the Food and Drug Administration warned the makers of Smart Candy—a vitamin-infused gummy snack that didn’t have very many vitamins—that its labels were misleading. Makers of KIND snack bars also got blasted by the FDA for violating labeling rules by putting the word "healthy" on the packaging for some of its high-calorie bars. The government and food advocates are still trying to figure out labels, but in the mean time it’s probably best for consumers to pay attention to what they can see—calorie counts, sugar counts, carbs and sodium.
5 FOOD TRENDS WE'RE EXICTED ABOUT IN 2016
1. Upscale international flavors.
Food trucks and mom-and-pop shops aren’t going anywhere anytime soon but we’re ready to try some ethnic cuisine sitting down. As the country realizes that dishes like General Tso’s chicken aren’t really Chinese, demand will increase for authentic ethnic cuisine. And according a chef survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, “authentic ethnic cuisine” was named by 14 percent of chef respondents as one of the top trending items. Look for exciting things in Greek, Middle Eastern and Mexican food.
2. Craft distilleries.
Craft beer had an undeniably successful year. Earlier this month, the Brewers Association declared that the number of U.S. breweries was at a record high-- 4,144 different beer makers—which means beer lovers have more choice than ever when it comes to finding their perfect brew. And artisanal spirit producers are getting into the game -- giving stalwarts like Diageo a run for their money. In 2005, there were about 50 craft distilleries in the United States. Today, American Craft Spirits Association says there are 769—and that figure is growing. While these small batch spirits are typically pricier than the average bottle of Jack Daniel’s or Captain Morgans distilleries are cranking out some amazing concoctions that are changing the booze landscape.
3. Alternative proteins.
We don’t think everyone should be eating bugs every week—yet crickets, grasshoppers and ants are finding their way into American foods and drinks. From cricket bars to centipede vodka, crafty advertising and high-end chefs experimenting with the creepy crawlers are chipping away at America's aversion to these creatures. Even if bugs aren’t really your jam, Whole Foods’ trend forecasters are predicting that lesser-known meat cuts and different, more sustainable seafood, will likely begin popping up on restaurant menus soon. Chefs are becoming more conscious of ways not to waste and using a more nose-to-tail approach may be one way to cut down on what’s being tossed.
4. Less processed food.
We applaud food groups trying to make a difference by nixing artificial additives, preservatives and colors. Some, like Panera, have already started the phase out. Others, like Subway, have given themselves lengthy timelines to achieve their goals. The gradual move toward more natural foods may be just be a marketing ploy but we’re happy that companies are trying to promote more health conscious attitudes toward food.
5. Organic fast food.
(The Organic Coup)
In November, The Organic Coup became the country’s first USDA certified organic fast food restaurant. The California based eatery, which has plans to expand through the state next year, is likely the first of many restaurants vying for that special seal.
Attaining a full organic certification is hard-- 95 percent of the menu and all ingredients have to be in compliance including beverages—but we predict that more restaurants will at least promote items that feature organic items (for people who care) and get serious about labeling GMOs.