The Travel Trolley

Food trends for 2013: Local, sustainable and tasty

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January 8, 2013

ATLANTA – This year looks to be a promising one for foodies.

The National Restaurant Association found that locally sourced meats and seafood and locally grown produce will be among the hot trends for 2013. In making its predictions, the association surveyed more than 1,800 members of the American Culinary Association.

Sustainability and healthy options were the big winners in the National Restaurant Association’s top ten list.

Chefs are also suggesting that menus including more healthy kids’ meals and items that promote environmental sustainability will be among the year’s culinary themes. These may come in the form of more restaurant gardens, chefs predict.

What could be most exciting is the opportunity for new cuts of meat, from Denver steak to pork flat iron to teres major, to show up on restaurants’ menus. A senior food editor at Nation’s Restaurant News suggests game meat – elk, antelope, and venison – will also appear in more dishes.

While potatoes and avocados might not be as exciting as sriracha hot sauce, custom beer is sure to delight, and all are on the NRN’s list. The publication suggests chefs might start working with breweries to produce more custom beers.

Another trend that has picked up in recent years – and is expected to continue this year – is local beer, whether it be at the brewpub, a microbrewery or the growler bar.

Growler bars allow customers to sample beers from local and offbeat breweries and then take home a growler for full enjoyment.

While breweries have long sold beer directly, the advantage of the growler bar is that customers aren’t restricted to a single brewery – and these bars often feature a knowledgeable staff, who can offer suggestions based on preference.

As part of the peek into 2013 trends, the National Restaurant Association also spoke with roughly 200 members of the United States Bartenders’ Guild who expects that onsite barrel-aged drinks, food-liquor/cocktail pairings and culinary cocktails featuring savory and/or fresh ingredients will be popular this year.

“Artisan products, local sourcing and culinary creativity are trendy on restaurant menus and our new research shows that to also be true behind the bar,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and knowledge for the National Restaurant Association, said in a news release.

“Increasing recognition of mixology has elevated restaurant drink menus to a new level that allows bartenders to showcase their skills in blending textures and flavors similarly to how chefs approach food in the kitchen,” Riehle added. “This is good news for today’s increasingly sophisticated and adventurous consumers, who have a wider variety of alcoholic beverages from which to choose when dining out.”

Other foods that various experts and publications predict to pick up in popularity throughout the year: popcorn, vegetables and smoked meats.

What’s funny about these lists is how little is truly new. Vegetables, for example, have been around for eons. They’ve been canned, fried, pickled and served fresh from the farm.

While most people’s palates might not be as adventurous as celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern, perhaps in 2013 people should embrace his motto: “If it looks good, eat it.”




Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is also editor of Railfanning.org.




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