Food is changing: what we’re eating, how we’re eating it and where it’s all coming from.

admin | August 18th, 2014 - 10:31 am

The way we eat — the kind of food we buy, where we get it, how it’s prepared — has become a part of our identity, a guiding force that shapes how we live. It unites us. And divides us. Food brings people together in communal functions. But it also pits ideologies against each other: vegetarians vs. carnivores; all-natural evangelists vs. the convenience crowd; calorie counters vs. indulgence seekers.

No matter where individuals fall on the spectrum, we are a country obsessed with food. And with a seeming explosion in allergies, heightened concerns over obesity, increased scrutiny of chemical additives and growing environmental concerns, there’s more attention being paid to what we eat than perhaps ever before. After decades of stocking our kitchens with meat, cheese and noodles, while simultaneously dieting to reverse the effects of all those fatty, starchy foods, we may be realizing that food isn’t just a way to live, it’s a lifestyle choice.

How will Americans be eating in five years? Here’s what they said about the future of food:

Food that’s good for us will taste better

A growing number of chefs, food bloggers and restaurateurs have started dedicating themselves to promoting healthy food that’s also delicious. They’re finding ways to cut down on fat, sugar and meat and still make money.

There are plenty of restaurants and food purveyors out there that are working to make nutrient-dense food delicious and appealing and exciting.

Vegan is going mainstream as people seek healthier, convenient options. Included on her menus is a “bacon cheeseburger” made with seitan, a gluten-based meat alternative; caramelized onions; tofu bacon; and battered dill pickle chips. “When you can have something that tastes delicious and it feels good in your body and you feel like you did something good for yourself, why wouldn’t it sell?” she says.

Farm-to-table will trickle down

The advent of farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants have brought food sourcing to the forefront of Americans’ consciousness. Not only are strawberries grown an hour away fresher and better tasting than the ones that spent days or even weeks being shipped across the country, buying that produce supports the local economy and a more sustainable way of eating.

But it’s also expensive. Access to locally grown produce is still relatively reserved for those who can afford it and have the time to seek it out. “Unfortunately, if you’re a single mom and work two jobs and can barely put food on the table, you don’t have time to think about where your food came from.

That could change if the country collectively demands better food. Hopefully that support of local farmers and farmers markets, and programs that introduce kids to gardening, will help make access to better food a national movement. If you can have this happen on a grass-roots level, then it spreads so it’s in the community. No one is dieting. They’re just eating better food.

As people begin to look for (fresh food) in their everyday dining occasion, they put more pressure on grocery and other fast-food segments of the industry.”

We might see ads for broccoli

Another way to make produce cheaper? Get people to buy more of it. Processed foods dominate the grocery business, luring us with million-dollar marketing campaigns that show up on our TV screens as commercials with our favorite athletes or celebrities, in magazine ads and in eye-catching store displays.

The problem is there’s no branding in produce. The power of marketing is huge.

Unfortunately, the government doesn’t necessarily make it easy. How do we level the playing field for people financially to make it possible for them to eat healthier in ways that aren’t going to cripple their budgets?  One big way would be to totally rethink the Department of Agriculture. Because so much of that agency’s energy and research and development money is going into crops that fuel the highly processed food industry. And so little of it is going into making fruits and vegetables less expensive.

We’ll see the end of the diet

Can a country that has built an entire industry around dieting decide to, instead, just eat healthier all the time?

Groups of people have adopted gluten-free diets even though they’re not technically allergic to gluten. Others prescribe themselves the Paleo diet, eating the protein-heavy, dairy-free foods of our Stone Age ancestors.

When it comes to eating, we are a country of extremes, Erickson says, opting for meat and potatoes or doing a complete 180 and going only for vegetarian and non-fat food. But what were once considered specialty diets are starting to be combined and adopted into a more balanced and manageable way of eating all the time.

Somewhere in between is something we cannot treat as a diet, but treat as an accepted and sought-for lifestyle as it relates to what we consume.

And as fresher, local food not only becomes more widely available but is prepared in ways that are appealing, eventually people will make more choices of things that are better for them because it tastes good, not because they’re necessarily disciplined about it.”

Source:  usatoday.com, 8-14-2014

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