Nutrition-wise blog

Restaurant trends for 2016

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. November 24, 2015

It's time again for predictions of the hottest food trends for 2016 from the National Restaurant Association (NRA). Each year, NRA surveys members of the American Culinary Federation — the movers and shakers in the food world — to identify the next big thing in food.

Here are a few trends to look for in 2016:

  • Locally sourced meats. This includes using less common cuts of meat, such as hanger steak, tri-tip and short-ribs, and house-made sausage.
  • Locally grown produce and hyper-local sourcing. (What's hyper local? Think rooftop restaurant gardens and restaurant owned and operated farms.) This includes farm or estate branded items.
  • Natural ingredients and minimally processed foods.
  • Sustainable fishing and farming practices and efforts to reduce food waste.
  • Chef-driven fast-casual concepts. This includes food trucks that bring food to consumers — versus the other way around.
  • Healthy kids' meals.
  • House-made or artisan ice cream. (What's artisan? Items made by hand or using traditional instead of commercial methods.)
  • Ethnic condiments and spices, and authentic ethnic cuisine (versus "fusion"), including ethnic breakfast foods.
  • Ancient grains, such as millet, teff, amaranth and quinoa, in place of wheat, corn and rice.

I don't know about you, but I think these trends seem to reach back to earlier, simpler, relatively healthy world cuisines — before the global distribution of processed foods established in the 20th century. Don't get me wrong. I'm not dismissing the last 100 years of food technology.

I hope these trends signal that culinary experts are leading our food world in a healthier direction. A direction that includes food systems that expand the delivery of safe and healthy foods to more people in ways that are more affordable and ecologically sustainable.

What are your thoughts?
- Jennifer

Nov. 24, 2015