The National Restaurant Association and the American Culinary Federation, an association of professional chefs, undertook a survey of 1300 professional chefs in the United States in the Fall of 2014 seeking responses to questions about the top food trends in 2015. Of the top 20 overall food trends reported, several related to local, sustainable and environmental aspects of food:
#1: Locally sourced meats and seafood
#2: Locally grown produce
#3: Environmental sustainability
#5: Natural ingredients/minimally processed food
#7: Hyper-local sourcing
#8: Sustainable seafood
#9: Food waste reduction/management
Among culinary themes identified by the chefs surveyed, the top four all related to environmental sustainability:
#1: Environmental sustainability
#2: Natural ingredients/minimally processed food
#3: Hyper-local sourcing
#4: Food waste reduction/management
More detailed results are available through links from http://www.restaurant.org/News-Research/Research/What-s-Hot
GallonDaily suggests that the food service industry, and indeed the entire food industry, might benefit from putting some definitional meat on these bones. Few of the terms included in these top trends have any widely accepted definitions. For example, in Ontario, Canada, we frequently see “wild caught seafood” on the menu of restaurants claiming to specialize in locally produced food. This despite the fact that the nearest ocean is about 1000km distant from the restaurant. There is no accepted definition of “natural” when the term is applied to food. Few restaurants have adopted meaningful food waste reduction initiatives – the ubiquitous doggy bag being, in our opinion, a less than fully satisfactory solution to a serious oversize portion problem.
It is exciting to see sustainability issues ranking so highly on a restaurant industry membership survey. As 2015 unfolds we hope to be able to report on many successes in responding to these challenging topics.