In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a massive paradigm shift towards healthier food. People are becoming more conscious about the food they consume. So much so, that fast food outlets like McDonald’s and Taco Bell are changing their game plans.

In the year ahead, this groundswell will become a sea change because we aren’t just eating better for our health anymore, we’re doing it to save the planet. We understand the environmental implications of factory farming, wastage and discretionary food and we’re adjusting our diets accordingly.

This year’s food trends show a return to sustainability and a newfound appreciation for nutrient-rich foods that have been right under our noses the entire time.

1. Greens from the deep


Sea vegetables are the superfood that not enough people are talking about. Sure, there was a brief spirulina craze and we all get a bit of nori when we have maki sushi, but there’s a whole garden of nutritious greens in the ocean that are unappreciated. Thankfully, that’s changing. Expect to see weird words such as kelp, kombu, wakame and arame all over menus very soon.

2. A helping of bacteria


There’s a growing awareness of the effects of gut bacteria on our overall health. Reportedly, it can affect your cardiovascular system, mental health, kidneys, weight and skin – your whole body, essentially. Fermented foods that are rich in probiotics such as kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut and kvass promote a healthy gut microbiome. They also introduce interesting flavours and aromas to meals that are an acquired taste but are well worth it.

3. Authentic ethnic


Asian and South American cuisines have been part of the mainstream for a while. The problem is that they have been reinterpreted so liberally that they barely resemble their origins. This time around, ethnic food is being approached with respect and kept authentic. It’s also starting to include cuisines from a variety of cultures. Jollof rice and plantain from Central and West Africa are already crossing over into the mainstream. We can expect more dishes from all over the world – reproduced with absolute reverence – to follow.

4. Back to the frozen food aisle


Frozen food is lowly and incomparable to the fresh stuff, right? That’s what I thought too until I heard about “fresh frozen”. It’s basically the concept of freezing fresh food as quickly as possible using a variety of technological methods that have only recently become available. In the US, millennials have already resuscitated the frozen food industry because it’s cheaper and, if it’s fresh frozen, it doesn’t have the depressing aftertaste of traditional frozen food. Win-win.

5. Green light for cannabis cuisine

(Justin Aikin on

To be clear, I’m not talking about food that will get you high. While marijuana-infused food and drink are not new, the food trend I’m referring to is hemp-infused cuisine. Hemp and marijuana are cannabis plants but hemp has negligible psychoactive properties and high concentrations of CBD (cannabidiol) which counters the few psychoactive effects of the plant. When ingested, hemp has health benefits that range from pain relief to treating depression. It’s also an excellent source of plant protein. Look forward to hemp butter, hemp gin, hemp beer and even entire hemp restaurants.

6. More moringa, please


Moringa is reportedly the most nutritious plant on the planet. This sounds like a lofty claim but here are the facts: it has 92 nutrients, 46 types of antioxidants and all 18 amino acids, the building blocks of protein. It has 25 times the iron of spinach, 17 times the calcium of dairy milk and 15 times the potassium of a banana. It’s no wonder that we’re throwing it in everything we can, it’s borderline miraculous. There’s another lofty claim I’m willing to stand by.

7. Pretty-ugly produce


We eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths. Supermarkets know this and have been quietly discarding produce that doesn’t seem presentable. But now that we’re committed to eating sustainably, foodies are shunning supermarkets in favour of farmers’ markets where slightly odd-looking produce is sold with equal enthusiasm as perfectly conical carrots. Now you can find companies like Imperfect Produce and Misfit Market that are dedicated to rescuing the perfectly edible produce that’s discarded for aesthetic reasons. #AllProduceMatters

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Author : Rudi Badenhorst