By Janet Helm, MS, RD
Our country’s food culture is polarized. That means several of today’s food trends are competing with each other on opposite ends of the spectrum. For instance, we’re seeing the rise of engineered food as well as its demise. Shoppers are looking for value-added functional foods as well as stripped-down simple foods, according to The Hartman Group, which researches consumer culture, behavior, and demands.
What seems to be winning is the return to real. That was especially evident in Hartman’s list of foods they predict will be hot in 2012.
In: Real butter Out: Margarine
In: Grass-fed meat. Out: Processed soy protein.
In: Sea salt. Out: Low sodium.
In: Healthy fats. Out: Fat Free.
In: Stevia. Out: Artificial Sweeteners.
In: Chicken thighs/dark meat. Out: Chicken breast/white meat.
In: Local, seasonal superfruits. Out: Superfruits from afar.
In: Whole eggs, cage free. Out: Egg whites.
In: Farmstead cheese. Out: Processed factory cheese.
In: Fresh produce. Out: Excessive supplements.
In: Portion control. Out: Elimination diets.
In: Craft beer. Out. Ultra Lite beers.
In. Eating dark leafy greens. Out: Drinking wheatgrass shots
I like this list. It reflects my own nutrition philosophy. I’d much prefer to have a pat of real butter on my toast or vegetables than margarine. A small morsel of luscious dark chocolate tops having a jumbo dessert made with artificial sweeteners. Having a little bit of the real thing is much better to me than always defaulting to the fat-free or lite version of foods. Why limit yourself to egg whites for breakfast and boneless, skinless chicken breast at dinner? I’m glad to see glory given to whole eggs and chicken thighs. Why down wheatgrass shots when you can explore various new ways to prepare dark leafy greens?
This is a list that celebrates the taste of food. It’s about enjoying, not fearing food. That’s my hope for the coming year. Let’s get rid of our diet mentality and get back to the real thing.