By Drew Jackson
Bleeding veggie burgers, edible flowers and tree-based sparkling waters could be the most popular foods of the year.
Whole Foods, the organics pioneer and Jeff Bezos-backed supermarket, peered into its crystal milk jug and unveiled what it sees as the biggest food trends for 2018. The forecast comes from Whole Foodsí buyers, with many variations on old favorites, continuations of trends and some simply out of left field.
WAKE UP WITH A CUP OF MUSHROOMS: Touting the health benefits and rich, earthy flavor of mushrooms, Whole Foods believes certain varieties of fungi will rise to prominence in 2018. Look out for mushrooms in everything from cold brew coffees to shower gels.
VEGGIE BURGER 2.0: The plant-based trend has been building steadily for years, but new products are doing more than making veggie versions of hard-to-give-up classics, theyíre mimicking them. Now, veggie burgers bleed beet juice, and expertly sliced tomatoes stand in for tuna in sushi. Whole Foods predicts vegan desserts like frosting, brownies and creme brulee and new milks made from nuts, peas and bananas.
A TACO BY ANY OTHER NAME: Your beloved taco might take on new forms. Think seaweed-wrapped poke tacos or shaved jicama taco shells, as well as companies venturing into heirloom varieties of corn for more flavorful tortillas. The Choco-Taco has been around for decades, and Whole Foods expects to see more takes on tacos for dessert, as well as breakfast.
DONíT THROW THAT OUT: A revelation fell off the turnip truck that both root and stem have value. Often the world divides into those who eat the green and those who eat the root, but more and more people are finding ways to use every bit of the plant. In the spirit of whole-animal butchery, where modern tastes have led to a demand for the less choice cuts of meat, the stalks of broccoli or Brussels sprouts are finding their way into slaws, celery leaves are used like herbs and melon rinds are pickled.
BUBBLES ARE HERE TO STAY: Flavored sparkling water has become a way of life. LaCroix is the most well known, but others are starting to bubble to the surface. Mexican mineral water Topo Chico pops up more and more, but will variations like grapefruit and lime become easier to find? Whole Foods expects consumers to venture into tree-brewed styles from Sap!, which makes drinks from maple and birch.
MUNCHIES: Sour cream and onion potato chips were once the edgy side of snack foods, but in recent years, companies have launched all kinds of new flavors and textures, from red curry to Nashville Hot Chicken. Whole Foods predicts more people will look turn to potato alternatives next year: puffed pasta bow ties, seaweed fava bean chips, parsnip and Brussels sprouts chips.
IíLL BE YOUR CAPTAIN TODAY: Consumers are demanding more information than ever about where their food comes from, the conditions in which it was raised or farmed and how it came to their shopping cart. In an attempt to address those demands, Whole Foods says all of its canned tuna will be one fish caught on one line rather than a net, and that its foods will have more information about whether they were genetically modified.
MIDDLE EASTERN FLAVORS: Tastes have become more and more global over the past couple of decades, but the spotlight is finally finding Middle Eastern flavors. Fans of hot and spicy foods should try cooking with harissa, and more menus are featuring traditional or variations on shakshuka. Whole Foods expects to see people eating grilling-cheese halloumi, using more chickpea paste tahini, as well as pistachios and dried fruits.
EDIBLE FLOWERS: Higher-end restaurants have used edible flowers as ingredients and garnishes for years, but look out for a few fragrant blooms to make their way into home kitchens. Lavender is already out there, but hibiscus and elderflower are popping up more and more.
BEYOND BULKING UP: In coffee shops, 2017 was the year of matcha, with the green tea powder often ordered in richly colored lattes. Long the muscle-building base for those at the gym, powders have moved beyond protein. Powdered egg whites are in granola bars, and turmeric root is showing up everywhere, including milks and tonics.