Specific foods seem to go through waves of popularity. Mangoes had their moment in the late 1990s, acai bowls shook up the world in 2016, and avocados became the main obstacle in being able to afford a house in 2017. Well, according to property tycoon Tim Gurner anyway.
Cauliflower pizza. Kale shakes. Protein pancakes. Quinoa bowls. Why have these been hailed the celebrities of mealtimes while the humble carrot or a sausage sizzle remain at the back of the queue?
How does a fruit or vegetable become so highly desired that they have the power to jump-start profits and shape the daily eating habits of millions?
There are many factors that go into making a food become the next big thing. From photos of the dish primped and pretty on social media, to adverts funded by large corporations that have an incentive to create a certain food economy.
You may not have been entirely aware of it, but your diet will have changed at least a little bit over the past decade. The food you’ve been eating and the ingredients you’ve been popping in your trolley at the market or supermarket will likely have become healthier, more global and less pre-packaged.
Here are some foods that probably found their way into your diet over the past 10 years.
Avocados aren’t a new thing. We’ve have been eating them for thousands of years, but young people have recently sent demand skyrocketing. According to the International Trade Centre, global avocado imports hit $4.82 billion in 2016, with imports growing by 21 per cent between 2012 and 2016. A prominent plastic surgeon said in 2017 that he’d treated so many patients who’d cut themselves slicing the fruit, his staff started calling the injury “avocado hand”.
The fruit’s versatility means it can be used for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert – or as a snack on its own. It is now the sixth most imported fruit in the world, after bananas, grapes, apples, oranges and almonds.
Cauliflower became the ‘in’ vegetable in 2017. It used to be perceived as the plainer, blander cousin of broccoli and was only saved by heaping on a load of cream and cheese. But its reputation couldn’t be any more different today. You can now find cauliflower roasted and served instead of steak, mashed and turned into a pizza base and even in baked goods such as these cauliflower brownies.
The demand seemed to be driven by carb-wary consumers looking for a healthy alternative to white rice and gluten-filled grains.
Green Giant first introduced riced cauliflower in late 2016. The company started out harvesting five acres of cauliflower for the product each week, but the demand grew so rapidly that it was harvesting six times that amount just two years later.
Turmeric is one trend where the science backs up the hype. It’s been used for more than 4500 years in Asian, Indian and African cuisine.
The brilliantly yellow-orange root contains the antioxidant curcumin, which is touted as beneficial for a host of ailments and has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects, as shown in recent animal studies.
Along with its extensive list of health benefits, turmeric gives dishes a vibrant yellow hue that can look great when photographed properly. This is likely another reason it’s exploded in popularity.
This dark leafy green has somehow built an image of the thing to eat if you’re a healthy, responsible, conscientious adult. From air frying it and sprinkling on nutritional yeast to make kale chips to blending it in an antioxidant-brimming smoothie, it’s nothing if not versatile.
The number of kale farms in the US doubled between 2007 and 2012, and Beyoncé wore a sweatshirt in a 2015 music video with ‘KALE’ across the front.
5. Bone broth
Again, this is not a new food, but it has surged in popularity in the past five years. “Boiled bones have been around as long as humans have cooked with fire. Its current form is documented at least to the 1500s,” says cultural historian Libby O’Connell.
It may just be stock, but this trend-topping drink is loved by celebrities, athletes and nutritionists alike. It’s made by simmering bones in water and vinegar for hours and is hailed as the route to better health by many. Advocates say the resulting collagen-rich liquid reduces inflammation, cures leaky guts, nourishes the immune system, strengthens bones, improves joint function and promotes radiant hair and skin. The Minneapolis–Saint Paul Twin Cities Marathon even hands it out at the finish line each year.
Since carbs have apparently become a thing to fear, noodles have been shunned and people are reaching for the zoodle. Zoodles are just spiralised zucchini that can be cooked like pasta, tossed with tomato sauce and taste just like spaghetti … I don’t agree but there’s no denying its popularity in recent years. Restaurants and cafes have had to evolve to keep up with the eating trends of millennials and gen Z and, unfortunately for some, low carb has been a prominent one. From zoodles to zucchini brownies to deep-frying its flowers, you can find a whole host of recipes that call for grated, chopped and spiralised zucchini.
So, these are just a few foods that have exploded in popularity in recent years, there are many more, and many still to come. But it’s important to remember that no one food holds the key to perfect health, regardless of how famous or nutritious it is. Experts say a varied diet is best and eating many different types of fruit and vegies will give you more nutrients than sticking to one food.
The unfortunate truth, however, is that it’s likely easier to put one fruit or vegetable on a pedestal, rather than trying to make an entire food group’s brand sexier.
Were you caught up in any of these food trends? What do you think will come next?
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