What do fried beer, sea buckthorn berries and Lady Gaga's meat dress all have in common? They were some of the 20 most influential food trends, events and news stories of 2010 recently named by the editors of foodspring.com, the website for food enthusiasts produced by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT).
There is plenty for food lovers to chew on in this list — fashion and food, new foods, new food movements and new food technology. Topping the list at No. 1 is the A-list for chefs to give back, notably British celeb chef, Jamie Oliver who has made serious waves stateside with Food Revolution, as he aims to fix America's obesity epidemic, one school at a time.
Following at No. 2 is the Hyperlocal Movement where farmers' market certification is helping to reinforce the rules and ensure every item made available at these venues is honest and truly local. Some more discerning foodies are cutting out the other middleman to grow their own garden. And where better to grow than right at the site of the market or restaurant where the food is bought and consumed?
The benefits of going hyperlocal are innumerable — environmentally, ethically and financially — which is why plenty of shops and restaurateurs are joining the movement. The entirely hydroponic rooftop garden six flights above newly opened Manhattan restaurant Bell Book & Candle has been burgeoning for months, and will provide ingredients for many of the bistro's dishes. Billionaire Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin empire has made his own signature mark with Ninety Acres at Natirar, a restaurant/culinary center set on a resort farm in Peapack-Gladstone, New Jersey, where seasonal recipes highlight ingredients plucked mere paces away from the dining area.
No. 3 — Food Truck Revolution is burgeoning from mobile trucks to the launching of stationary Bustaurants (No. 15). Food trucks have grown into mobile restaurants with long lines and fanatic followers who find locations daily posted on Twitter.
No. 4 — Healthy Pistachios with sales help from scandalous personalities like Levi Johnston. Sales of "Get Crackin" Wonderful Pistachios have increased by a record-breaking 233 percent, earning a solid place in the chips-dominated salty snack market and possibly mastering the secret to selling healthy food. Now it's unveiled round two, with no shortage of headline-stealing stars: Jersey Shore's Snooki, scandal-steeped former Chicago governor Rod Blagojevich and Charlie Brown and Lucy of Charles Schulz' Peanuts fame.
No. 5 — Fried Beer Ravioli introduced at the Texas State Fair presented a challenge to inventor Mark Zable to maintain the alcohol content of the creation's defining ingredient. He fills a ravioli-size pocket of salty dough with Guinness (for which any favored beer can be swapped in), then drops it in oil at 375 degrees F. for 20 seconds — a short enough time to remain alcoholic and require enforcement of the drinking age restriction. Zable is currently seeking a patent for his State Fair of Texas Big Tex Choice Award winner of 2010.
No. 6 — Solar-powered, eco-friendly Food Vendors in New York City may be pioneering the next trend in food trucks. GustOrganics, an eco-conscious organic restaurant, is revolutionizing the humble food cart. According to foodspring.com, the project Organic Carts NYC has teamed up with hot dog cart owner Alejandro Rad to convert his stand into an all-organic vendor. Serving up tasty options such as hummus and chips and beef, chicken and vegetable wraps, the cart skips bottle service, offering only "super purified NYC water" in bio-compostable cups. Top it off with a solar panel to power the refrigerator, and this stand is a veritable nod toward a greener city. Similarly, Tavern on the Green Featuring Ladle of Love, an electric hybrid mobile food truck located at the site of the now-defunct venerable NYC restaurant, opened in October.
No. 7 — Sea Buckthorn, is it the next super fruit? Known as the Holy Fruit of the Himalayas, sea buckthorn berries pack a powerful punch of nutrition with vitamins A, E and C — its vitamin C content is 15 times greater than that of an orange — and it possesses the highest antioxidant level of all known fruits. The fruit has long been used in traditional therapies, medicines and for its vast nutritional value. Today it shows up in vinegars, juices, tea and even hair and skin products, many of which you can find at specialty food grocers such as Whole Foods Markets.
No. 8 — Oldways founder K. Dun Gifford's passing. Oldways is a nonprofit focused on healthy food advocacy and policy. "I want to challenge the insidious and overwhelming rise of junk foods, and fad diets, and to advocate a return to healthy, traditional old ways of eating," Gifford stated in a 2007 interview.
No. 9 — Old time Butchers are on the rise. Old-fashioned butcher shops are popping up everywhere, with products high in quality and merchants vast in know-how. Even Smartphone apps such as iPhone's Ask the Butcher are educating consumers with diagrams of cuts of meat and how to cook them.
No. 10 — Goodbye overly sweet coconut macaroons! Enter the French macaron, a soft almond-meringue sandwich cookie, rather resembling a meatball, that comes in bright pastels depending on the flavors and run the gamut from Chocolate and Raspberry to Lavender and Pistachio. Macaron shops have been popping up in major cities and in stores. Whole Foods and Starbucks are hopping on the bandwagon, with the latter offering prepackaged versions
The foodspring.com list continues on with ten more hot food trends: iPad apps with menus and wine lists; food merging with fashion as in Lady Gaga's meat dress (No. 12); mandatory calorie listing for restaurant chains, and even a cookbook on cooking with marijuana, The High Times Cannabis Cookbook coming in at No. 20. For a complete list with details go to foodspring's bitethis page.