Americans are getting increasingly intimate with their food, and 2008 likely will see the relationship deepen.
That's because two forces — the proliferation of foodie culture with its obsessive desire for provenance, and growing worries over food safety — have combined to create a whirlwind of information about food and drink. And all signs indicate the storm is just starting. So here are some trends likely to influence what you eat in '08.
- Local foods — Savvy food marketers today are latching onto the latest child of the natural foods movement — local — and are trying to take it mainstream. As eco-sensitivity has grown, consumers have questioned whether eating organic grapes from Chile is a particularly "green" choice. Now people want to know how far their food traveled, and the closer the better.
- Varietal — Where once it was enough to say where and how a food was produced, consumers now also want to know the specific varieties of ingredients and breeds of animals it was produced with. As in, whether Macouns or Red Delicious were used to make an applesauce. Or which breed of cow produced the milk used to make a particular cheese, and olive oils pressed from specific varieties of olives.
- Food safety — Repeated recalls of meat and produce have drawn attention to the sluggish and outdated American food safety system, and the government has faced mounting calls for an overhaul. Expect food companies to tout new and increased safety measures. The issue, including demands for a streamlined and effective government agency to oversee the issue, also will get more headlines.
— — The Associated Press