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The Food Guy: From crickets to cannabis, a look at 2018 food trends

If someone came up and asked you to try a bite of “aquafaba,” you might be inclined to say yes — or at least be intrigued enough to ask more. But if that same person offered you a chocolate chip cookie made out of chickpeas, you might tell them where they could put that so-called treat.

Yet aquafaba (another name for those aforementioned cookies) was YouTube’s No. 3 breakout food of the year based on the site’s top trending cooking videos of 2017. Who knew that odd combination was even a thing?

I was much more familiar with the rest of the top 10, which looked like this:

  1. Fried ice cream
  2. Okra
  3. Aquafaba
  4. Seaweed soup
  5. Jerky
  6. Poke
  7. Green papaya salad
  8. Crab boil
  9. Brussels sprouts
  10. Coconut cake

As for what foods will catch fire in 2018, the Specialty Food Association’s Trendspotter Panel predicts culinary innovation, continued health consciousness and demand for more developed flavors will be the factors that drive next year’s emerging favorites.

“Macro trends like sustainability and health are converging in 2018,” says the Specialty Food Association’s Denise Purcell, adding that more algae and other plant-based products meant to reduce food waste will be in demand, along with the use of functional ingredients like activated charcoal as part of a so-called “goth foods” movement.

“But while a lot of these trends speak to health and better-for-you choices, consumers’ demand for deeper flavor exploration is still strong, as evidenced by the interest in Filipino and regional Middle Eastern foods.”

According to these Trendspotters, here are the top 10 food trends you’ll see reflected in restaurants, recipes and home kitchens throughout the coming year:

  1. Plant-based foods. Think algae instead of meat, and more plant-based substitutions for cheese and desserts.
  2. Upcycled products. We’re talking processed foods made from scraps, juice pressed from imperfect fruit, chips made from leftover fruit pulp and snack bars made from spent grain left over from the beer-making process.
  3. Filipino cuisine. An inspiration for some Asian and Latin dishes, the bitter and sour notes some Filipino food is known for is expected to come into its own in the U.S.
  4. Goth food. Call it a backlash to 2017’s deluge of rainbow and “unicorn” foods, but activated charcoal (produced by heating coconut shells to extremely high temperatures until they are carbonized) is gaining superfood status for its reported detoxifying attributes. Look for it in everything from pizza crust to lemonade to ice cream.
  5. Alt-sweet. As consumers continue to seek alternative sweeteners for lower glycemic impact and calories, syrups made from dates, sorghum and more will join monk fruit as emerging options.
  6. Product labeling 2.0. Expect consumers to demand greater on-label visibility regarding the farms, ingredients and supply chains that go into the foods they eat. Beyond just GMO transparency, things like Fair Trade certification, responsible production and animal-free testing will be expected.
  7. Root to stem. Beyond just a farm-to-table focus on fresh, local ingredients, consumers are starting to demand less waste in the food they eat as well. That’s causing more chefs to utilize the entire fruit or vegetable on their menus, including roots, stems or leaves that are less commonly eaten.
  8. Cannabis cuisine. What’s in that pot? Maybe pot! As more states legalize recreational marijuana, the varieties of pot-enhanced food and beverage will increase — not only in availability, but also acceptance.
  9. Middle East flavors. Now that Americans have embraced the likes of hummus, pita and falafel, they’re open to exploring deeper traditional and regional flavors from other Middle Eastern cultures, with Persian, Israeli, Moroccan, Syrian and Lebanese influences leading the pack.
  10. Traditional bread. Yes, a trend “back” to something more traditional. No longer overshadowed by artisan bakers, mainstream bakeries are elevating their sourcing, ingredients and production to reinvent themselves as well.

What else do these culinary prognosticators foresee in 2018?

More cricket flour and other nongrain sustainable proteins, the rise of fermented foods, handmade cocktail mixers and bitters created for home use, savory flavors where you’d traditionally expect sweet, and collagen-infused foods that give you the opportunity to “eat for beauty.”

You heard it here first, folks, but you might want to take these predictions with a grain of salt.

If eating directly resulted in beauty, I’d be a slam dunk for People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” Every. Single. Year.

Steven Keith writes a weekly food column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and an occasional food blog at blogs.wvgazettemail.com/foodguy. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com. You can also follow him on Facebook as WV Food Guy and on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as WVFoodGuy.

Funerals for Monday, September 16, 2019

Campbell, James - 2 p.m., St. Anthony Catholic Church, Charleston.

Chaney, Doris - 6 p.m., Ridenour Lake Gazebo, Nitro.

Conger, Jacqueline - 2 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Daugherty, Roy - Noon, Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant. 

De Roo, Mary - 11 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Church, South Charleston.

Garrett, Barbara - 1 p.m., Grace Episcopal Church, Ravenswood.

Jennings, Betty - 4 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Legg, Phyllis - 1 p.m., Bell Creek Missionary Baptist Church, Dixie.

Lyons, Ronald - 1 p.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Parsons, Joan - 2 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Persinger, Patsy - 1 p.m., White Funeral Home, Summersville.

Petry, Jo Ann - Noon, Cunningham - Parker - Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Stirling Sr., Robert - 1 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation Inc., Grantsville.

Waldron, James - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Woodard-Thomas, Carolyn - 1 p.m., West Virginia Memorial Gardens, Calvin.