What's the hottest trend of the past decade?

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Posted on Tue, Dec. 29, 2009

Trends reflect our mood in food 2010

The Kansas City Star

Got local?
The National Restaurant Association predicts “sustainability” and “local sourcing” of food will be top trends for 2010. Hey, we don’t mean to brag, but even before the Oxford New American Dictionary added the word “locavore” in 2007, Kansas City farmers and consumers were way ahead of the curve. What is a locavore? Someone who champions food grown on small, family-owned, environmentally responsible farms, usually within 100 miles of the city.

Frugal arts
Sure, in a tough economy old-school canning and preserving have taken on New Age cachet. But there’s no need to stop at spaghetti sauce made from your garden tomatoes. Urban homesteaders are constantly adding to their list of do-it-yourself endeavors. Need help? Pick up any number of how-to books for tips on making artisan cheese, wine or sausage, digging a root cellar — even butchering chickens you’ve raised in your own back yard.

Bravo for brussels sprouts
Odd ingredient darling of 2009? Those Thumbelina-size cabbages kids love to hate are turning up everywhere. Pizzabella serves the sprouts roasted with hazelnuts and pancetta. R Bar serves them nestled next to a hanger steak. Or thumb through the latest issue of Everyday Food and try the recipe for sprouts with pistachios.

Meathook chic
With the smash-hit success of “Julie & Julia,” is it any surprise that Julie Powell is putting forth yet another chapter of her life as a foodie? This time, she’s channeling her inner butcher. “Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession” (320 pages; Little Brown; $24.99) chronicles her sizzling affair, which then led to a stint learning the ins and outs of butchering.

R.I.P. Gourmet
The shockwaves continue to reverberate. Conde Nast pulled the plug on the country’s 70-year-old food magazine. Save those November 2009 issues. They’re sure to be a collector’s item one day — assuming the pages aren’t wet with tears.

Craft cocktails
Kansas and Missouri wines have been winning awards for years. And it’s fair to say Boulevard Brewery has become a local icon in the last decade. Now local bartenders are upping the ante. One of the latest local hot spots for cocktails: Manifesto, a speakeasy-style bar under the restaurant 1924 Main.

Farmstead cheeses
Artisan cheese made with milk from cows raised on the farm where it is produced has been gaining momentum across the country. It has taken awhile for the trend to catch on locally. Look for sheep’s milk cheeses by Green Dirt Farms at Bad Seed winter farmers market and new cow’s milk cheeses by Shatto Milk Co. available at Whole Foods.

Food-centric apps
So you’re at a restaurant, you’ve ordered a thick, juicy steak and you’re not sure what wine goes with it. Try the Nat Decants Drink Matcher, a $2.99 application that you can download to your iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Curve. There are, of course, apps out there to help you pair wine, count calories, find recipes, make restaurant reservations or figure the tip. Apple figures there are more than 85,000 apps in all. PCMag.com recently chose its Top 10 food-centric apps. Go to www.pcmag.com/article2/ 0,2817,2346549,00.asp to check it out.

Top 10 trends of the last decade

OK, so I was way wrong about the ultimate staying power of green ketchup, blue margarine and wraparound marinades. But for most of the last decade, my tongue was in tune with our culinary times.

The hottest trend of the past decade?

Local food.

When first lady Michelle Obama moved into the White House and planted an organic garden on the front lawn, suddenly local food jumped from the food pages to the front page. But we’re proud to say we’ve been at it for a decade, profiling farmers, artisan producers and various local grassroots food initiatives since 1999.

1. Local food: “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan was the must-read tome for anyone interested in understanding the politics and ethical dilemmas of moving from a corporate farming culture back to local food economies. Motivated by food safety scares, health concerns, an interest in sustainability and a concern for the environment, a growing number of Kansas Citians began joining CSAs (community supported agriculture, subscription services offering a weekly allotment of locally grown food). They began seeking out produce, meat and milk from small family farms within about 100 miles of the metro area. Hen House supermarkets started what is believed to be the only supermarket CSA model in the country.

2. Childhood obesity: One in three children in the U.S. is overweight. High-fat, high-sodium foods in super-size portions may be the culprit, but ironically the best medicine is also food — nutrient dense foods served in appropriate portion sizes, combined with lots of exercise.

3. Counting carbs: Easily the most distracting trend of the decade, the Atkins Diet and similar carb-restrictive plans allowed millions of Americans to get sucked into yo-yo dieting. As the late Julia Child always preached: all things in moderation.

4. Food safety: Mad cow disease, e-coli and salmonella outbreaks had more Americans questioning how their food is raised.

5. Silicone cookware: One of the most revolutionary kitchen materials to come along since Tupperware, the flexible cookware is available in a multitude of colors, and most brands are heat-resistant up to 500 degrees.

6. Gluten-free foods: With more people avoiding wheat products because of celiac disease and allergies, gluten-free products and cookbooks continue to flood the market.

7. Slow Food: An international movement started by Italian Carol Petrini in reaction to McDonald’s. Followers champion the opposite of fast and easy. Think local, farm-fresh and artisan foods prepared by traditional cookery methods.

8. Heritage breeds: Applause for farmers across Missouri and Kansas who are saving old breeds of pork and poultry. The quality of the product speaks for itself: New York chefs can’t wait to get their hands on the meat. Home cooks can try their hand at cooking heritage breeds. Look for heritage chicken at Hen House supermarkets and heritage pork at Paradise Lockers in Trimble, Mo.

9. Whole grains: Kansas may be the wheat state, but health experts have got us thinking about amaranth, spelt, barley, oats and quinoa. They’re still not household words, but they sound a whole lot less foreign. Look for these ancient grains in the natural foods sections of your supermarket.

10. Fair trade coffees and single-origin chocolates: Direct relationships mean high-quality beans and superb flavors for food lovers and better wages for farmers.