GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- From eating bugs for protein to raising chickens in your backyard to eat their eggs, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences experts say some food trends grow in popularity over time. Here are the food trends for 2018, as predicted by some UF/IFAS faculty:
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Are you bug-eyed for protein?
Insects are trending as a food source and are now being termed “micro-livestock,” said Rebecca Baldwin, a UF/IFAS associate professor of entomology. In fact, a chef who advocates for edible insects has attracted the attention of the Entomological Society of America and will speak to the group in Denver in November. The Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville also has sponsored a Science Café about sustainability, and the chef prepared mealworms in a wine reduction as a salad topper. That night, more than 60 patrons tried insects, Baldwin said.
Eggs from backyard chickens
Small poultry flocks have been a growing trend for a few years, said Mike Davis, director of UF/IFAS Extension Baker County. Many municipalities offer homeowners in residentially zoned areas the chance to raise small flocks of chickens for egg production. The rules and regulations vary from city to city.
Foodies on a budget
Some people – known as foodies -- are keenly interested in their food, particularly how it’s prepared and where it comes from. The best advice for foodies on a tight budget is to eat at home, said Brandon McFadden, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food and resource economics. While this may not be the advice some foodies want to hear, preparing food at home allows you to think about food from the perspective of a chef and provides a richer experience when eating out, he said.
Cut food waste
While Americans waste 130 million pounds of food each year, people will try to figure out how to reduce that amount, said Nan Jensen, a family and consumer sciences agent with UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County. Among the possible solutions are consumer education and tax incentives for companies to donate to food banks, Jensen said. Limiting organic waste that companies can dump in a landfill also helps, she said. Sometimes dates on food packages leave consumers confused and lead them to toss out food before its time. Making such labels more standardized would help, Jensen said.
Home food entrepreneurs
Cottage food laws have expanded recently in the state of Florida, said Samara Deary, a family and consumer sciences agent at UF/IFAS Extension Bradford County. Home food entrepreneurs can now use websites to market their products, and their earning potential has grown from $15,000 to $50,000 a year before they would need to adhere to more stringent regulations, Deary said.
“Some upcoming food trends include the resurgence of carbs as well as cook-it-yourself options,” Deary said. “Both offer a market for cottage food entrepreneurs to create food to meet the needs of those trends, not to mention the growing number of home bakeries that offer cakes, cupcakes and other shelf-stable baked goods, I would say offers pretty stiff competition to your local bakery.”
Locally grown food
The demand for locally grown food continues to increase, said Liz Felter, regional specialized agent for food systems and ornamental horticulture for Central Florida.
“Locally grown food is more nutritious because it has less distance to travel to get to the consumer,” Felter said. “Purchasing local food helps support local growers. Some small-farm operations have added micro-greens and basil to their crop offerings because demand has increased and these crops get higher prices.”
Along with locally grown foods, “artisan foods” are piquing consumers’ interest, said Soo Ahn, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at UF/IFAS. Artisan food implies that the product is hand-crafted in smaller batches, commonly with high-quality ingredients. Popular artisan food items include cheese, ice cream, and baked goods, Ahn said. The popularity of artisan foods will provide great opportunities for small food businesses, she said. Artisan foods manufactured by small food businesses and their marketing strategies also attract millennials, the key demographic of the food industry, Ahn said.
Lifestyle choices/diet can help cognition
With an increase in aging baby boomers and more cases of cognitive decline, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, there will be continued research and consumer education on how lifestyle choices can mitigate the physiological changes that occur as our brain ages, said Nan Jensen, family and consumer sciences agent for UF/IFAS Extension Pinellas County.