Top five food predictions -- Indian spice! meatless Mondays! --that I'll be pushing in 2013

And we should bring back the cool ham-holder, too!
2. Smoke if you got 'em.

Apparently the medieval ages are making a comeback in the form of smoked things. Our Middle Ages predecessors smoked foods out of necessity -- no refrigerators, freezers or King Soopers -- but nowadays those of us who don't live in the Ozarks can still smoke meats, fish, cheeses, sauces and even sugar just for the hoobly-heck of it. I have a short list of things I'd like to see smoked: bananas, spinach dip, pumpkin soup, peppercorns, butter, cinnamon desserts and my wish-list favorite, mashed potatoes.

I am 100 percent behind this trend re-re-re-re-revamp for no other reason than a smudge of smoke makes even boring ears of corn taste like sweet, roasty goodness, and I will qualify my enthusiasm only by clearly asking for this trend not to include too many mesquite-smoked items, since this backwards time-traveling trend need not make a pit stop in the 1980s.

Needlework courtesy of Portlandia.
1. Oh yes; it CAN and SHOULD be pickled!

I can never, ever say enough nice things about pickles. If pickles were a person, I'd take them out on a date, get them knocked up, trick them into marrying me, and then never let them leave the house. I have seen various and sundry pickled vegetables and fruits creep on to restaurant menus and do stealth-slips into shops and grocery stores, but I'm hoping this trend leads to a a veritable pickling revolution with pickled everythings --- pickled sausages, upscale pickled eggs, a bump in beets, a return to radishes, spiced pickled asparagus and eggplant, lemons, limes and perhaps some random stuff soaked into salt and vinegar like cantaloupe slices, cubes of sheep's milk cheese, fishes that aren't herring and green apples. Pickles are fairly inexpensive and easy to make, and restaurant owners and staff who have already put housemade pickles on their menus are smart.

I like the trend slogan, "Pickles! You Can Make Them Before You Become a Retired-But-Industrious- Grandparent!" Or just use the ready-made slogan from Portlandia, "We Can Pickle That!" Or maybe "Give Those Pickles Some Long Mouth-Tickles!"

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Ed Haas
Ed Haas

Animal shaped marshmallows spiked with vodka.

Mantonat topcommenter

I respect people who have made a decision to become vegetarian or vegan for moral reasons; they've made a decision for themselves about what they choose to put in their bodies. There are also people who can't eat meat because of allergies or other issues with digesting meat problems. 

Avoiding meat for weight-loss reasons or for general health is probably not going to get you very far. I'd rather see a No-GMO Monday or a Ban-Big-Ag month. Soy is one of the most industrialized crops in the world and one of the top 5 GMO crops. Many people who switch to a vegetarian diet end up filling the space in their meals with pasta, bread, soy products, and other calory-dense, relatively nutrient-poor, processed foods that have their roots firmly planted in ConAgra, Monsanto, and Cargill.

Good meat is not cheap, but you don't need to eat a lot of it. Look for grass-fed, humanely raised and slaughtered meat. Avoid food made in factories. 


@Mantonat it is a good point to put meat-eating in a larger context of the overall impacts of food, but you don't _need_ to eat any meat; i eat a small amount of meat, but as a luxury, not as a requirement; i also don't believe that vegetarians rely more than average on processed industrial food; a few might, but i think for most vegetarianism is an aspect of a broader thoughtful relationship with food

if you want to take personal action in the world, look to your most impactful activities, such as eating, driving, producing trash, etc.; personally i give some respect to moral positions, but when it comes to food i have greater respect for informed choice-making based on issues of sustainability, worker conditions, side-effects of trade, health and humaneness; i don't hope for this to become trendy, i hope for it to become normal

Mantonat topcommenter

@sporobolus @Mantonat There's probably not one single food item that humans "need" to eat. We're omnivores and we thrive on a combination the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, along with a multitude of micronutrients that can really only come from a varied diet. I'm in favor of getting those nutrients from the most bio-available sources while still considering the impact on the animals, soil, and communities where food is produced.

I think we're mostly on the same page, except that I don't necessarily think of meat as a "luxury," but rather as the best possible source for the building blocks that make us human. There are certainly other ways of fueling the human body, building cells, and energizing the brain, but they are not optimal. A strictly carnivorous diet would not be advantageous, nor would a strictly grain-based diet or a fruit-based diet.

When I referred to "moral reasons" for making food choices, what I really meant was "informed moral reasons," because believing something without educating yourself about the ramifications of altering your behavior is a pretty poor excuse for morality. So, I think your phrase "informed choice-making based on issues" is exactly what I mean by "morals." Maybe "ethics" is a better word choice, given the religious baggage carried by the word "morality."

In the long run though, people should choose what feels right for themselves and what makes them feel most healthy. Meatless Monday is just a feel-good campaign with no moral weight and certainly no objective health benefits.  

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