Spilling the beans per se in food knowledge

The National Restaurant Association issued its annual report of food trends that the industry is excited about. Sweet heat flavors and CBD snacks were on the list, as were revamped classic cocktails. Many of the biggest trends relate to items that are better for the environment. Last year, locally sourced meats, vegetables, and seafood were on-trend. Plant-based proteins topped the list in 2019 as well. This year, the biggest eco-friendly trend is the packaging.

1. Takeout and Delivery Containers

According to the NRA, over 60% of restaurant traffic is takeout and delivery. This report was created before COVID-19, so that figure will definitely rise over the next year. Eco-friendly packaging is a hot topic among restaurants and food trucks. Consumers want environmentally friendly containers. Some cities are regulating what materials can and can’t be used, which is also driving demand.

2. Scratch-made and Healthy Dishes

Consumers also want made-in-house dishes from restaurants. It will be interesting to see where this trend goes over the next few years, with the coronavirus pandemic creating a new normal. Healthy bowls have been gaining popularity and are on-trend in 2020. These bowls offer creativity in flavor and colors. Parents are looking for healthier options for kids to replace classics like pizza and mac and cheese.

3. Zero-Waste Cooking

Restaurants are trying to reduce their impact on the environment by reducing their waste. Nose-to-tail cooking has been on-trend for the past few years. Home cooks have embraced zero-waste cooking by only buying what they will actually cook. Many people are using every part of the vegetable, from the pulp to the peel, to create dishes. Carrot tops replace basil in a bright green pesto. Potato skins are fried up as chips or crunch for other dishes. Coffee grounds can flavor ice cream, then go to the compost heap for even more recycling.

4. Alternative Proteins

Consumers are looking for cheaper alternatives to beef, pork, and chicken, not just for the environmental benefits but for cost. The NRA believes that insect protein and whey protein powders may be falling out of favor. Consumers are turning to vegetables, such as mushrooms, which are a natural, sustainable product. Natural whole grains like quinoa, farro, and amaranth are another option for increased protein in a diet. Moreover, It’s expected that over the next decade, these products will continue to see growth on menus in restaurants and in homes.

5. Eco-Friendly Beverages

The NRA lists kombucha as a hot trend for 2020, along with agua frescas and oat milk. These options are very sustainable when sourced correctly. Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that is full of probiotics. When you use sustainable tea to make kombucha, you can reduce your impact on the environment over many other drinks. Agua frescas are made from fruit and water and maybe a little sweetener, making for options healthier than soda but just as sweet. Oat milk has a lower impact on the environment than most milk substitutes, plus it tastes delicious.

Know What’s Hot in the Kitchen for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Buy local ingredients. Support the growers in your community. Get excited about cooking and food while learning more ways to be eco-friendly food trends.