The Wild Food Trends of 2017
In the spirit of all things nourishing (which, in case you missed it, is our theme of 2017), we thought we would open the new year with an exploration of food - always a fun topic, and hopefully one of the most nourishing aspects of our lives. It's bizarrely easy to forget sometimes, but that really is the point! So we had a little look at what 2017 is projected to bring to our plates, and we were inspired to both laugh and wonder at everything the food industry is dreaming up.
Kale. Bee pollen. Acai, Goji berries. Moringa powder. You might think that you have modern day superfoods nailed, but I would invite you to THINK AGAIN. So get ready, because the hotlist of 2017's hot foods (N.B. very few of them are actually hot) is in, and they are as wild as they are wild.
Remember when life was simple and you just had to fit some dark leafy greens to be a supercharged food hero(ine)? The power is still with plants, but not necessarily your garden-variety. Not in their raw, virgin & untouched state, anyway.
Enter the ferments, the vinegars, the cultured substances and the just plain substances -- weed & 'shrooms are making a comeback, alongside, well, germs (for real, many of 2017's hot foods are basically carriers for bacteria).
First up, we have vegetable yogurts - a way to get both one of your 5-a-day (which turns out should actually be more like 7 or 8), plus some of those healthy gut bacteria that we should all be cultivating and caring for, now that we know that our immune system is really housed in the gut. And of course you should always save a little for a face mask - seriously, yogurt works wonders topically for the skin. Not sure if there are any added benefits in say carrot yogurt, but it does show how versatile and interesting vegetables can really be!
Kimchi and sauerkraut have been hot for a while, and don't expect them to go anywhere. As the benefits of cultured vegetables (think pickles and ferments) continue to be studied and understood, these foods will increasingly become part of our daily routine. The purported benefits are a stronger immune system, better digestion and, in the words of Amanda Chantal Bacon, "happy glowy face." She has also said that incorporating cultured vegetables into your diet can help kick your sugar habit. (check out this presentation for details). We've been incorporating more kimchi into our diets, and you know what...there may just be something to this!
Everyone is always talking about eating the rainbow, and colour is as nice a theme as any for a hot food trend. So with that in mind, we will apparently be eating more purple food in 2017...think less Koolaid (is this still around? Anyone?) and more purple cauliflower, purple asparagus, purple potatoes, purple broccoli and even purple corn. In line with this trend, beetroot will remain a mainstay, and be employed in the ever-advancing ranks of inventive meat substitutes. This burger is straight out of Silicon Valley and backed by Bill Gates himself. It apparently bleeds beet juice, and it photographs like the real deal. I'm intrigued!
Hydrate like Beyoncé
And speaking of celebrity-funded food experiments, the watermelon juices we've been seeing in grocery stores are predicted to rise in popularity; apparently Beyoncé is an investor.
And then of course you have the mushrooms - these guys already infiltrated our supplement cupboards in 2016 in the form of powders to be added to smoothies, teas, coffees or steamed milks. Think astralagus, reishi, maitake and shitake, lion's mane, chaga and a slew of other adaptogenic herbs with names that sound straight out of Lord of the Rings. It truly seems that this is the year of the mushroom; we will be invited to experiment with different combinations depending on our mood, our energy and our needs. Now we are of two minds with this. On the one hand, the movement towards inviting people to really tune into their bodies, assess how they feel and act accordingly is empowering and fun. On the other hand, hawking ground up mushroom powders at not exactly bargain-basement prices smacks a bit of snake oil merchandizing. Particularly when the blends bear names like "Sex Dust". And yet....
We personally tried some of Moon Juice's combinations (available in the UK here) while back in the US at the end of last year, and while we were initially sceptical (to say the least), we were surprised to notice a real different in our energy levels and skin clarity. And this was over the holidays, when healthy habits weren't quite the priority they normally are! Looking into this a bit more, we've come to understand that at least some of these mushrooms and herbs are routinely employed in Chinese medicine, and have been for years. So needless to say, we will definitely be boarding the mushroom train in 2017, and look forward to sharing more as we learn. We have something very special in mind for Life Butter Radio in particular!
Whether any hallucinogenic mushroom varieties will ride the current '70s revival back into popular culture remains to be seen!
Not Just for the High
Finally, we have the return of MJ, which has received a lot of attention from the wellness press over the last few months as more and more places in the United States legalize its use. We've seen articles on how it can help everything from depression and anxiety to PMS/PMT and pregnancy, and an exploration of all the different ways you can partake. And "weed chic" is apparently a thing in California. We predict that the fascination with all things hemp will only continue; the ebbing stigma around cannabis in the United States invites inventive foodies and the wellness community alike to harness the power of this plant in new, inventive and potentially lucrative ways. The Business of Fashion suggests that the drug could be the luxury industry's next big opportunity, as we increasingly look to spend on experience over "stuff". If Keeping Up with the Kardashians is any measure, I think they may be right.
Now if you're not uber wealthy, but you're curious, you love chocolate, and you are based in the US, you can dip your toe into this trend without going anywhere near bong waters: enter Sakara Life's hemp chocolates (formerly CBD chocolates). These feel-good, bite-size chocolates contain "hemp extract" (CBD oil - read a bit here), and have been marketed as a substitute for your nightly glass of wine. We'll admit it, we gave these a try too last time we were Stateside - when, we should point out, the ingredient list read "CBD oil" rather than "hemp extract". But we have confirmation that the formula is in fact the same and the label change is more of a marketing exercise. How how did they work out? Well, we aren't sure that they had any special, relaxation-inducing powers, but they are organic, vegan, tasty and portioned in lovely, 11 -calorie-a-pop little nuggets of gorgeous CHOCOLATE, so what's not to like? We thought that these had disappeared from the market since Christmas 2016, but we discovered that actually Sakara Life is selling them with Amazon! So now you can add to basket and these can arrive with your latest reading, diaper haul or what have you. No one needs to know, and given the wide distribution channel, it will be easier than ever to get your hands on these, wherever you are in the US.
The New Almond Butter
We all love nut butter (well some people don't, but they are just WEIRD). Sometimes though you want something just as satisfying but a bit less stodgy, a bit thinner...in which case, have you tried seed butters? They've been around for a while, but are predicted to multiply like bunnies in 2017. New varieties are cropping up on supermarket shelves all the time, and if you are US-based and addicted to novelty, you could hop on the net to try Sakara Life's watermelon seed butter. We have to admit to trying and loving this one over Christmas; it's pretty mild and would appeal to those who don't like a strong nutty taste.
Finally, while I personally think bread and gluten are well up for a resurgence, the alternative pasta scene isn't going anywhere. So you can keep your spiralizer or, if you crave a bit more substance, try pulse-pasta: think lentils and beans turned into your favourite shapes. A little more satisfying than all the corn and rice varieties, and these variations have the bonus of some protein!
I'll be really interested to see how the restaurant scene continues to evolve in 2017 too. Increasingly, fine dining seems so passé...I think diners still want and expect a bit of a scene, ambiance and occasionally some glamour, but are really more interested in the food - both the flavour and provenance. We'll see what this ever-changing landscape serves up next - we can't wait!
So whether you are at home or dining out, get ready to go all Wild & Crazy with some veggies. At least these superfoods won't stain your clothes quite as badly as your average green smoothie or juice, so you can dress in homage to the original Wild & Crazy guy and go all white!