Thursday, December 19, 2013

Saskatoon Food Trends 2014

I was asked by Valerie Lugonja, A Canadian Foodie, to comment on upcoming food trends for a composite blog post she prepares every year. Here’s what I came up with. Let me know what you think.


1. What surprised you most about food trends in 2013? 
Buying local food has becoming increasingly popular. Even large grocery chains are beginning to purchase locally.

Four new microbreweries (Prairie Sun Brewery, Saskatoon; District Brewing Co., Regina; Bin Brewing Co. and Black Bridge Brewery in Swift Current) opened in Saskatchewan this year – a huge jump, indicating increased popularity for local, craft beer.

Urban agriculture is surprisingly popular – from school gardens, to community gardens, to the Saskatoon Food Bank’s Garden Patch.

Food bloggers are increasingly working for industry with sponsored posts and giveaways. I believe this will result in bloggers as a group losing their independence and their credibility.

There is a growing divide between celebrity chefs (Gold Medal Plates, television cooking shows) and the provision of healthy, local food to the population as a whole (cooking classes, farmers’ markets). The more we emphasize the former, the less attention we will be able to give to the latter.


2. What do you see as the major food trend(s) locally (wherever you are from) for 2014? 
Support for local food and urban agriculture will continue to grow.

A specialty restaurant offering organic, gluten-free food opened in 2013 (Leyda’s) and has proved popular. Hopefully this will lead to the opening of more specialty restaurants.

Saskatoon is ready for a wide range of pop-up restaurants, supper clubs, and other impromptu food events. Prairie Sun Brewery is already combining hyper-local beer production with monthly launches of seasonal beers accompanied by local music and food. Prairie Sun sponsored an Oktoberfest with beer, food and games this past fall. A Cheese & Beer Festival in February will feature 5 local chefs preparing dishes with 5 local cheeses.


3. What do you see as a major trend(s) throughout Canada and or the US for 2014? 
Meat consumption in the US has been declining for nearly a decade. Restaurants and the food industry will devote increasing attention to meatless/vegetarian/vegan options.

Food waste is a huge issue world-wide. We will begin to address the issue on all levels – production, distribution and consumption.

There will be increased awareness of the risks of monoculture food production due to disease and pests (e.g. oranges, bananas) and an increased emphasis on local food production and greater biodiversity.

Food banks will put increasing effort into providing healthy food (locally-grown fresh produce rather than boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese).

Healthy school food programs will be expanded with an emphasis on healthy food (less fast food fundraisers), cooking classes, and less waste (disposable plates and cutlery, individually-packaged foods).

Fizzy drinks will continue to be popular, but we’ll switch from mainstream pop to specialty brands and do-it-yourself soft drinks.


4. What would your most sincere hope, wish, or desire be to see as a food trend in 2014? 
Saskatoon and Saskatchewan’s restaurant industry will respond to the increased demand for vegetarian/vegan meals with a classy vegetarian restaurant, a vegetarian tasting menu, and/or a greater variety of vegetarian/vegan options.

People will focus on all-round healthy eating rather than fixating on specific trends (e.g. gluten-free) and fad diets (paleo).

5. Any other comments…
Our dreams for the future are always firmly rooted in our values and past experience. So here’s a little background information to help you interpret my thoughts on future food trends. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 30 years. I am convivium leader for Slow Food Saskatoon and a passionate supporter of local food entrepreneurs, the smaller the better. Wanderlust and Words emphasizes local, healthy food and food businesses. My brother and I operate EcoFriendly Sask, which supports and encourages local environmental initiatives through an online publication and small grants.

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