In today’s world, food trends can come from unexpected places. No one would have predicted that kale, a leafy vegetable used to spice up butcher’s case displays, would enter the mainstream food world as an ingredient in everything from salads to smoothies to chips. However, anticipating in-vogue ingredients is often as simple as figuring out how to use overlooked edible byproducts.
Today the style is to consume as much of an animal or vegetable as possible, or ‘full utilization.’ That means that even commonplace foods, such as carrot leaves or bone marrow, can be the source of a new ingredient. Following new trends and making products based on them will appeal to people who want to eat responsibly and reduce food product waste.
Often, these parts of animals or plants have an intriguing taste that can enhance a recipe, and the reason that they are overlooked is simply because no one thinks to use them. How many people know that carrot leaves can be used in cooking?
Restaurants have a financial incentive to make as little waste as possible, and the culinary chops to make these unique ingredients work in a recipe. As always, the cutting-edge restaurants set a precedent for food products, bringing certain ingredients into the public eye and demonstrating how to make them appealing. What they’re serving could signal the start of a new ingredient trend in food products.
Just because an ingredient has its fifteen minutes of fame doesn’t mean it will fade into obscurity. In fact, the goal may be for it to fade into obscurity as long as ‘obscurity’ signals passage into the mainstream and commonplace. If, six months from now, people are drinking kale smoothies without batting an eyelash and eating kale chips with their sandwiches, kale’s time as a trendy fad will be over. All that does is let people focus on a new ‘hot’ ingredient while companies who jumped on the kale trend are profiting from their products.
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By Blake Mitchell