Produce Trends for 2015

I just can’t resist offering up my thoughts on a few produce trends for 2015. The great thing is that fresh produce is front and center for all things healthy, and retailers and restaurant operators (and chefs) are even more in love with fresh produce than they ever have been.

Plant-based Protein

Yes, that’s right. Who knew that many produce items can be a source of protein? This is super important to vegans and vegetarians, but the spillover is that all consumers are finding out about fresh produce as a source of protein. In addition to potatoes and broccoli, consider Colored Cauliflower, Baby Brussels Sprouts (green AND purple!), Edamame, and Green Artichokes. Next time you want to make a light meal at home, why not grill a Cauliflower Steak? (Don’t laugh. There really is such a thing. At a fancy dinner I attended earlier this year, since the honoree was vegan, we all had Cauliflower Steaks, and they were delicious!)

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Food52: Dan Barber's Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Purée

Food52: Dan Barber’s Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Purée. Click for recipe.

Digestive Health

We are all concerned with the health of our “gut,” which is why probiotics and yogurt have become so popular. But did you know that fermented foods, which are trending heavily right now, are good for your digestion too? Try Kim Chee (spicy Korean pickled vegetables) or one of my personal favorite vegetables, Sunchokes® (also known as Jerusalem Artichokes).

Meatless Monday

You may not be aware that the Meatless Monday campaign has been around since 2003. The concept is that if going vegetarian or vegan full-time is scary, why not try just one day a week? An amazing fact is that the Meatless Monday movement helps with the drought in California. One of our top crops in California is hay, which is used to feed cattle and other animals. Producing hay uses a lot of water. So, by cutting out meat one day a week, who knows how many gallons of water we will save!

And here are other top trends that you’ll notice in the months to come:

Gluten-free

Well, of course! Because I have a daughter who is allergic to gluten, I have become super aware of the plethora of gluten-free foods. We only purchase foods that boldly state “Gluten-free” on the label. If it doesn’t say it on the label, we don’t take a chance. But be prepared for some backlash on gluten-free, just as there has been on “low fat” and “high protein” foods. Healthy and balanced nutrition is important!

More Root Vegetables

Whether it is parsnips, celery root, carrots, beets, rutabagas, or turnips, roasting vegetables whole as a main course has become very chic!

Ugly Produce

I cannot wait for this trend to catch on! A blemish here or a wilted leaf there does not affect the eating quality of the produce. And just think of how much more produce will NOT go to waste if we purchase and prepare “ugly-looking, misshapen produce.” Here’s a great campaign by French grocery chain Intermarche.

Intermarche – ‘Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables’ from Goodvertising on Vimeo.

Small Supermarkets

Smaller stores are easier to shop. Even Walmart is opening “Neighborhood Markets,” smaller versions of its supermarket. Chefs in some smaller markets are willing to pre-cook “gourmet” food to go, or you can ask them for recommendations on the spot. It’s more personal!

Local, Local, Local

I just heard a radio commercial for a restaurant chain advertising the name of the grower of its greens! We’re used to seeing local growers’ products at farmers markets, but supermarkets and restaurants alike have realized that we want to know who grows our food and if it’s nearby, even better!

Looks like we will continue to have more healthy options available too. Hooray! More fruits and veggies make me happy!

Happy New Year!

Karen

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