What a difference 4 years makes in the food world


Ah, four years ago. How quaint we were back then.

A new study of culinary trends has revealed major differences in the way we think about food now, compared to the far-off days of yore known as 2009. Chief among these is the continuing assimilation of what we used to think of as ethnic foods into mainstream cooking and dining (When is the last time you thought of Italian cooking as "ethnic," or Mexican? How about Thai?).

Social media, which are being credited for pretty much everything these days, are also cited as changing the way we think about food, as are food media such as food television and magazines. The study also notes the huge increase in places where food is for sale — including farmers' markets, drugstores, and food trucks — and says that as Americans we have generally embraced the concept of looking for local, seasonal, and sustainable fare. 

Associated with that trend is a similar movement toward expecting to know where one's food came from, and what is in it.

But those are just the big picture trends. How about specifics?

The study sees a continued interest in nutrient-rich chia seeds among the culinaroscenti and a proliferation of fancy cocktails spurred both by young hipsters and a well-organized alcohol industry.

Third wave coffee — high-quality, specialty, and artisanally prepared coffee — is also trending upward, especially among people who use phrases like "trending upward." Quinoa is also big among customers looking to lose weight, for extra protein, and for gluten-free food and gluten-free baking. It is also a firmly established foothold in the potentially up-and-coming Peruvian food trend.

Also trendy: coconut water (because of the increased Hispanic and Asian populations), farm-raised seafood, Greek yogurt, and salty sweets such as salted caramels and chocolates.

The study, A Look Backward & Forward Culinary Trend Mapping Report, is a joint publication of CCD Innovation and Packaged Facts.

Food and health

Cancer, bad. Healthy foods, good.

Every month, the Toledo chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation holds a class on its ideas — not always within the medical or nutritional mainstream — about healthy living.

This month's class is perhaps less controversial than most. Based on the premise that our modern diet is bad for our health, the class will discuss how to protect yourself against cancer with food (not coincidentally, that is the name of the class: Protect Yourself Against Cancer with Food).

Chapter leader Kris Johnson and health counselor Lisa Bowe will promote the benefits of whole foods. That's whole grains (grains in which the hulls have not been removed) and other unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and non-homogenized dairy products.

The class will be from 6-8 p.m. on March 26, in the Fellowship Chapel of Grace Lutheran Church, 4441 Monroe St. The class is free, but donations will be accepted.

Nutritious whole-food treats will be served.

More Dinner Tonight

The cupboard is getting bare. The bottom of the barrel is nigh.

In other words, we are running out of submissions for our exceptionally popular Dinner Tonight feature (we can only say that because it was not our idea). The twice-weekly feature runs recipes from you, the readers, that are at least nominally healthy and fast to make.

To be frank, sometimes they aren't so healthy. Sometimes they aren't so fast. But everyone seems to love 'em.

So, if you have a recipe that you would like to share, or two or three or more, by all means don't hesitate to send them. They don't even have to be your own recipes; just tell us where you got them, if you can recall.

In return, we will credit you for sending it in. You can be world famous — in that anyone around the world theoretically can call up the recipe on the Internet.

We thank you. And most important, all the other readers thank you. Honestly, if your recipe is printed, more people than you imagine will be trying it. Just send the recipes to food@theblade.com or Dinner Tonight, The Blade, 541 N. Superior St., Toledo, OH 43660.

Items for Morsels may be submitted up to two weeks before an event to food@theblade.com.