Local Food Trends for 2011

One of my favorite local news sources, The Rapidian, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, posted an article today listing the top predicted food trends for this region in 2011. Here’s a synopsis, and it’s oh-so-pleasing if you’re into happy food:

Frugal & Quality
Back to the basics, choosing quality over quantity. I like author Lisa Rose Starner’s suggestion: Instead of going to Costco for bags of cut-up chickens, why not restructure “your budget and eating habits to buy a few whole, pastured chickens from a local grower and use the whole thing?” Then you’re supporting farmers who practices humane animal husbandry while eating good quality real food. Or, let the farmers come to you at one of the numerous local farmers markets, or the West Michigan Co-op.

Homesteading & Gardening
This year is supposed to be the most productive year for food gardening since World War II. For people who don’t know where to start, there’s a Root Camp being held at Grand Rapids Community College. Or, try a community garden. And homesteading? It’s a way to become more self-sufficient. Check out the resources available.

Traditional Foodways
Starner says more people will be learning to cook whole chickens, use raw milk, and get schooled on the old ways of preserving foods. She suggests free classes at Nourishing Ways of West Michigan . Or try your local farmer. Lubbers Farm, where Bill and I buy our meat, offers workshops, such as the Freezing and Canning one I went to.

Homegrown and Harvested Herbs
Local plants and garden are a great source for tea ingredients. And, with rising healthcare costs, medicinal herbs are taking an upward trend.

It’s the new culinary obsession. Even chefs are foraging in fields, woods, parks and sidewalk cracks for edible, wild plants.

Small Food Businesses in Household Kitchens & Bartering
Last year Michigan passed the Cottage Food Law that allows individuals to manufacture and store certain types of foods in an unlicensed home kitchen. That means you can produce and sell foods made in your home, such as cookies, popcorn, breads, vinegars, jams, and jellies. With so many artisan delights available, bartering will be on the rise.

More Vegetables on the Menu
Watch for turnips, kohlrabi, daikon, kale, and bok choi at restaurants and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Food Trucks?
Sarner claims she added this one “for good measure, just because it’s something everyone is talking about.” But I think she’s right. If there truly is only one food truck in Grand Rapids, operated by the Winchester restaurant, there’s certainly room for more. Check out the farm-to-trailer model, Odd Duck, in Austin, Texas. How about it GR?

Food Reporting Gets Democratic
Sarner summarizes by saying, “No more will food reporting be relegated to ‘White People Food.’ We can expect more people to use technology and platforms like The Rapidian to engage and have critical conversation about what they eat.  Expect the coverage to take on different flavors than the pallid ‘foodie’ persona that’s been the lead face of our food over the past decade.”

I think she’s on the mark. Can’t wait to see what summer brings!


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