In 2016, you'll be surrounded by healthier fast food options and more home-delivery services. Cooking to reduce food waste and local sourcing will remain priorities. These will be present, but the defining trends are the ones you will taste.
The Scoop: Look forward to new spicy flavors and seasonings from abroad. The ones with the biggest buzz are Indian bhut jolokia (also known as ghost pepper aka the world’s hottest pepper), sambal from Southeast Asia, and harissa and dukka from Africa.
Find It: These flavors will be all over when you eat out as chefs experiment and add in their favorites. Are these spices on your table?
The Scoop: The vegetable of the sea, seaweed is a member of the algae family and comes in a few varieties (easily divided by color). It’s alluringly sustainable; it doesn’t require fresh water or land to grow. It’s a good, but not primary, source for protein, Omega-3s, calcium, and minerals and it’s the best for iodine. Eating seaweed will also help you expand into a new flavor profile: umami.
Find It: After you've eaten all the sushi you can stomach, check out these other ways to consume seaweed. As a powder, it can be added to smoothies, salad dressing, and desserts; try Maine Coast Sea Vegetables and Terrasoul. The mineral content means it's also great in beauty products. Mix your own with the powders or get some from The Seaweed Bath Co. Get your snack on with dried and roasted seaweed GimMe Health Foods or raw SeaSnax.
The Scoop: Lauded for providing more health and environmental benefits than meat and fish, insects offer a sustainable and stable source of nutrients. There’s a wide range available; there are almost a million species of insects, although not all are edible. They’re not so taboo abroad so while there are plenty of new products out there to try (cricket is big, think Exo or Bitty), this trend will gain staying power if people get educated and perceptions shift.
Find It: When you're ready, look around EntoMarket. It's an online marketplace for a wide variety of edible insect products. First, you might want to browse Little Herds, a non-profit educating and changing people's perception about eating bugs, or Girl Meets Bug, a blog with the same purpose.
The Scoop: Finally, bitter might get its due. Between the focus on eating and cooking with more vegetables, the interest in new spices, and the world of craft cocktails, bitter will be everywhere. And that’s not a bad thing. Bitter foods help you absorb nutrients, detoxify, stimulate metabolism and fight free radicals. The body has bitter receptors all over and scientists are still figuring out how exactly they help keep the body healthy.
Find It: It's the perfect time of year to add bitter greens into your diet. You know the list: arugula, spinach, endive, kale, broccoli rabe, beet and turnip greens. Local Harvest can help you find a winter market or CSA. For some sweet bitter, try Wild Ophelia dark chocolate bars (hell yes, Bayou Style Country Chili and Sweet Honey & Hickory BBQ Potato Chips). Last but certainly not least, the bitters. Mix it up with Hella Bitters and El Guapo Bitters for perfectly balanced cocktails.
The Scoop: The UN named 2016 the “International Year of Pulses” (IYP). Pulses, edible seeds that grow in pods and harvested when dry, can also be called grain legumes and include most beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils. They’re nutritious, great for protein, fiber and iron. They’re a sustainable crop; not only do they require relatively little water to grow, they restore soil health by fixing nitrogen. More common in developing countries, they’ll play an important role in tackling food security.
Find It: Get educated about IYP and all things pulses. For an incredible variety of legumes made in the USA, check out Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans. Look for some exciting new recipes from the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council.