2015 is already proving to be an strange, even contradictory year for foodies to follow. Between the weird-ass buttered coffee micro-trend and major fast food chains putting out feelers to re-brand burgers, fries, tacos, pizza and fried chicken as being fresh and less processed, 2015 is already shaping up to be an attention-grabbing year for food and drinks. What sort of titillating food trends might we all see this year? Well, the year is a week old and already "Vanilla Chex-gate" (hinky stuff with renaming high-fructose corn syrup) is garnering attention, and apparently buffet food might taste better if it costs more--because science.
Here are five food trends to watch in 2015. There's a variation of the paleo diet, the newest superfood, and massive fermentation. Hemp creeps into nutrition, and people are about done with grocery shopping already.
5) The paleo-vegan diet
On the off chance you've been living in a Paleolithic cave since 2013 or so and haven't heard, the paleo diet trend was mighty popular, with "caveman" principles like eating high-protein, low-carb meals and sticking to the ideals of a modern renaissance of hunter-gatherer fare. Most proponents have been heavy on the hunter side and decidedly lighter on the gatherer part, but vegans who court fad diet trends can rest easy; 2015 is looking like the "it" year for the paleo-vegan diet, a festive variation on the original fad. Going paleo-vegan consists of consuming staples like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and some tubers (like sweet potatoes), and avoiding all grains, legumes, beans, dairy, alcohol, sugar, and starchy tubers (like potatoes).
Gathering yams as the centerpiece of a good meal isn't a terrible idea, but good luck chucking the cocktails and chocolate bars. Hang tight if all of this doesn't sound appealing, because whatever next year's fad diet trend is, chances are it will be the opposite of 2015's.
Where would we all be without at least one "new," "exotic," and relatively unheard-of superfood every year? 2015's new shiny guardian of good health is moringa leaves, from trees indigenous to Northern Africa -- specifically moringa oleifera . Proponents compare Moringa to spirulina and wheat grass and it allegedly to provides various and sundry health enhancements such as high protein, vitamin C, potassium, iron, vitamin A and antioxidants. The leaves are also high in a plant hormone called zeatin, reputed to be an anti-aging substance. Moringa is growing in popularity and is available in powder, capsules and tea form (and probably even a suppository at some point in the future).
It's hard to know whether to yawn or get excited over some leaves that have been around for a pretty long time, but if it turns out these leaves can cure cancer or make you shit gold bricks, that would be swell.
3) Hemp seeds
News flash: chia is out -- hemp seeds are in. I'm actually going to miss chia seeds because ground up and placed in delicious tropical fruit smoothies, they turn into an appetite-satisfying gel goop full of omega-3 oil. But if hemp seeds are gonna replace them I won't leak saltwater because hemp seeds are full of recognized healthy goodness like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, zinc, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron and vitamin A. Hemp seeds are also pretty tasty (or at least mild-flavored and -textured enough to be non-intrusive when added to oatmeal or smoothies) with a light, almost pine-nutty flavor that goes well sprinkled on things like salads.
In other words, you don't have to grind up hemp seeds and sneak them into things like you do with chia, and with the cannabis prohibition days coming to a close, more folks will be less spooked by anything sounding weed-y.
For more food trend predictions for 2015, read on.
2) Fermented foods
Fermenting has been around since pretty close to the dawn of civilization, and zymology is just plain remarkable (huge food nerd alert!). Fermented foods like yogurt, cheese, coffee beans, sourdough bread, pickles, wine and miso are already prevalent, but products like kombucha (a slightly effervescent drink made from fermented tea and sugar) have become more mainstream the last few years, leading to a renewal of interest in the sour flavors and fizzy mouthfeel of fermenty eats and drinks. And aside from the more obvious likeable qualities of fermenting, the "good" bacteria used in fermentation is a time-honored digestive aid, helpful in maintain healthy levels of gut flora and well-balanced innard-ecology.
In other words, fermented foods make you poop in ways that are good, which should be important to everybody, all the time.
1) Grocery delivery
If any of the up and coming food trends for 2015 gives off a distinctive air of "saw that coming," it is having groceries delivered. Anyone who has ever had Schwan's delivered knows the unadulterated joy at seeing the yellow truck pull into the driveway (and how magically delicious Schwan's chocolate malt push-pops are). The trend of online shopping for groceries to be delivered is turning out to be less of an expensive luxury, and more of a solution for busy people to get their fridges filled for nominal fees. I'm a freakjob who enjoys grocery shopping and who regards food being brought to me as a fun but sporadic novelty, but even I have to admit that when big-box stores like Wal-Mart now offer grocery delivery at reasonable rates, there must be compelling reasons for this type of market niche blowing up big like it has.
Simply put, more people are busy as hell, and would rather pay for the convenience, and customer service in many grocery stores is undeniably poor, leaving customers unwilling to bother shopping in real time. It's interesting to see stores like Wal-Mart being both a cause and a solution to a problem, but 2015 already looks to be a year of food industry contradictions with plenty to ponder before 2016.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.