Three food trends to watch for in 2013

foodTrendsIn Edible Twin Cities’ first-ever forecast of key local-food trends for the coming year in Minneapolis and St. Paul, we’ve identified three issues to watch for in 2013. These include:

— A continuing push for healthier school lunches in K-12 cafeterias
— A growing desire to cook more meals and rely less on processed food; and
— An emerging passion among urbanites to get closer to the land and the food they eat, through expanding backyard and community gardens and even raising chickens in the city.

These trends are not based on a scientific study. We identified these trends through our on-going coverage of local food and sustainability topics over the past year, plus conversations we had about food trends with rural small farmers, urban growers, restaurateurs, caterers, chefs and home cooks.

1. Healthier lunches, healthier kids

The movement toward healthier school lunches will get stronger in 2013. As
Lenny Russo, owner and chef of Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market in St. Paul, recently commented to us, “I think the push for more nutritious school lunches will continue to outpace other concerns.”

Jane Peterson, a turkey farmer near Cannon Falls, who, with her family, also runs Ferndale Market, agreed. “We think K-12 schools will continue to emerge as leaders in local food sourcing…both (Minneapolis and St. Paul school) districts are continuing to look for innovative ways to increase their local purchasing.”

This trend also connects with Michelle Obama’s national healthy school lunch initiatives.

2. Cooking: Back to basics

More people than ever are “learning and wanting to cook again, and buying and eating less processed foods,” said Beth Fisher, chef at Wise Acre Eatery in Minneapolis, who also has taught cooking classes in the Twin Cities for the past 20 years.

3. Local seeds, city chickens

Young gardeners in the urban core are transforming their lawns and yards into giant vegetable gardens. Others are keeping bees and raising chickens in the city. Still others operate urban farms on vacant lots. Community gardens are also expanding. Fisher predicts these activities will increase as residents here and elsewhere see that “directly connecting to their land has a payoff outside of what they harvest. That direct connection closes the gap between blind consumerism and responsible consumption.”

As Greg Reynolds, an organic farmer who runs Riverbend Farm near Delano says, more succinctly, the trend is toward “local seeds.”

This city farming trend also fits with ongoing efforts by both Minneapolis and St. Paul to rewrite their zoning ordinances to accommodate more urban farms and gardens.

At the same time, though, you may see an end to the surge of farmers’ markets in the area, because there aren’t enough small farmers to supply them.

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