The new trendy superfoods that are going to give you every vitamin you need, endless energy, help you drop 10lbs and cure cancer seems to change every few months, but what makes food trendy? The most obvious fad when talking about hipster food is kale, the leaf of choice for all celebrities has popped up just about everywhere recently and hailed for its powerful antioxidant qualities which apparently could help to prevent cancerous diseases. Long before Beyoncé wore a “KALE” sweatshirt in her 7/11 music video kale’s largest buyer was Pizza Hut who used it not even to eat, but to decorate their salad bar.
When compared to similar, less trendy vegetables though kale is nothing special; spinach has very similar statistics and even has more potassium, iron and magnesium as well as fewer calories per 100g. Looking at it on paper, kale is no more “super” than many other vegetables so why has it suddenly become a must-have ingredient? From a marketing point of view it’s obvious that making something once perceived as drab and boring the new must-have, cure everything superfood is great for business. Food historian and author Colin Bannerman thinks there are always three forces driving food trends: manufacturers and supermarkets trying to make money; journalists trying to impress readers; and restaurants, which are “always trying to re-invent themselves on an endless quest for novelty”. He also brilliantly points out that the kale trend won’t be around much longer given the fact that kale doesn’t taste very good.
The newest (and luckily tasty) trend at the moment is avocados, it’s almost impossible to find a trendy restaurant that doesn’t offer something involving avocado. This is less about the fact that it’s going to be insanely good for you like kale and more about the taste and unique, buttery texture for something grown on a tree (apparently they’re technically a berry), it could be because of all the burrito bars that have popped up in the UK offering fresh, delicious guacamole that people have been turned on to it but there’s a large amount of evidence to conclude it’s more likely to be a clever marketing ploy. Another one is the Instagram favourite, coconut water which is toted around like the latest designer handbag, or even quinoa, you’ll get no respect from the food trendies if you’re still calling it “kwin-oh-ah”.
Surely it’s not a bad thing that healthy foods full of nutrients are becoming fashionable, if it’s duping some otherwise unhealthy folk into trying out vegetables or whole grains for the first time in their lives then it’s not something to complain about.
It’s not only healthy foods that go through these trends though, you’ve probably noticed how pulled pork suddenly turned up on every menu a few years ago, craft IPAs, burgers and BBQ restaurants have never been more popular as well as the hype around cronuts, a deep-fried croissant and doughnut hybrid. Cronuts especially were an absolutely insane fad, they were trademarked by a baker in New York and due to limited production and exclusivity, the Cronut spawned a black market in NYC with scalpers selling them for up to $100 each.
It’s always good to try out new foods and when it’s something healthy making an appearance on every menu it’s obviously a positive thing. When it comes to deep-fried and not so nutritious trends it’s probably best to remember the rule about having everything in moderation, unless that means you’re paying $100 for a glorified doughnut, in which case you need to rethink some things.
Image reference: People