Let’s take Food Trends Further Towards Sustainability and We Can All Eat Better
What do I wish for in 2017? Sure, I’d like to see more wild game on menus, fewer macarons and perhaps more great casual dining with a focus on local, but food security for all would be my real number one. We can move closer to food for all this year with just a little more thought around the very subject of food, and it’s hell trendy too! Sustainabilty has to be a trend in our world, not only from a food perspective but in every way we live, or we won’t have the soil we need to grow food, or the environment to support it. Fortunately most food trends have been moving in right direction, so let’s all further embrace these particular trends and continue to make a difference in 2017.
Food Waste – We are reducing food waste and will be paying more attention as the price of food increases. From veggies to meat to that leftover pasta, let’s use those odds and ends. It’s about the carbon footprint people, not just dollars down the drain and into the land fills.
Pickling/Fermenting – You know what helps reduce food waste? Pickling and fermenting. We’ve known this for centuries, but we’re doing it a lot more now. There’s a ton of fermentation courses out there, and heaps of books on it! It’s also pretty cool to reach into the fridge and grab a jar of pickles that you made yourself. Maybe you even know the farmer that grew said pickles; even better. Check out “The Art of Fermentation“, the bible on this subject.
Community based food events – A number of very dedicated and special people come to mind when I think about events over the past few years that build community around food. These events are gaining momentum through 2017 as we all want experiences, no matter what generation we are. Examples include:
- Across Vancouver, networks of committed people are focusing on food justice and resilience at the neighbourhood level with the Neighbourhood Food Networks (NFNs). Each Network provides community-based food initiatives and programs. You’ll find bulk food buying clubs, gardening workshops and community kitchens. Here’s where you’ll also find that fermentation workshop!
- At UBC Farm each year Meeru Dhalwala and Mary Mackay produce the Joy of Feeding, an event featuring home cooks from different ethnic backgrounds who share their dishes, traditions and stories. From Russia with love!
- Greasy Spoon Super Series – Fundraiser For A Better Life Foundation – This monthly series sees Vancouver’s top chefs create their own unique spin on diner fare. The dinners raise awareness and support food security in the DTES, all while bringing people together to eat over a reasonably priced well though- out meal.
Gut Health – From bone broth to kombucha to kefir and just good old regular yogurt, people want to feel good and will turn to food to help them more. Fermented food strike again here too as there’s massive benefits to the digestive system from consuming anything prepared in this manner, plus food waste is vastly reduced. Check out my friends and client, Home on The Range Organics and their Bone Broth Bar at 235 East Broadway for more.
Sustainable Seafood – Let’s make sure what we are eating comes from fishermen that respect the sea and ask questions, and talk to fishermen, chefs and seafood shops where we buy from. Follow Chef Ned Bell on his sustainable seafood journey and shop with seafood purveyors that get it.
Vegetables, Veganism and Sea Veggies– Vegetarians and vegans are all around us and it’s great! We are getting better vegetable dishes and chefs and home cooks are more creative. Add some sea veggies to your plate and you’ve also added not only a cool factor, but a ton of nutrition as well. Check out vegan chesse as well, in Vancouver, Blue Heron produces amazing non-dairy cheee!.
Grains and Pulses – It was The Year of The Pulse in 2016, and kudos to all that helped get the message out and put those lentils and more back on our plate. I look in my cupboard and see many more pulse-based goods. These items deliver a reasonably priced nutrition-packed protein and are also great for those who need to be gluten free. Another bonus is that they are Canadian-grown; check out the Alberta Pulse Growers for more information and recipes.
Herbs and Spices – Just as I was typing the word turmeric at few days ago, I looked up and saw my pal, and fellow food writer, Dan Clapson, talking turmeric on Global TV. This is a colourful and health-filled spice and I know we’ll see more of it, along with other herbs and spices that add more than just flavour. Stock up on Ras Al Hanout, Zatar, ginger, cinnamon and more. Make sure you also clear out any spices that have come of age in your cabinet as these are no longer effective from a health or flavour perspective.
Meat – We are still eating meat, but better meat and it’s key to continue to support your local farmers who are producing meat sustainably and treating their animals right. I’m continuing my work on educating consumers on pork with the Passion For Pork project, promoting Western Canadian Pork, and urge you to ask your butcher and grocer where all your meat comes from.
Trends come and go, but the trends that last are the ones that actually make sense over the long term and are SUSTAINABLE – there’s that magic word we really need to focus on. What needs to trend right now is understanding our food system is part of a much bigger system, influencing our entire environment and all people around us. Make some good choices in 2017, share more food with those you know and those you don’t, create a community event, cook up some new veggies, use pulses and spices and sustainalbe meat and seafood, and most importantly ask questions and more questions. Let’s push the trend towards feeding not only ourselves well, but others too, both physically and spiritually.