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A FRESH Point of View: New Year’s Food Trends

I am such a food geek that I love to read about food almost as much as I love to eat it. This time of year, that means I’m studying all the “food trends of the year” lists put out by industry analysts, food magazines and product associations.

Granted, not all food trends make it to our corner of the world. But after talking it over with the experts here at FRESH, here are some of the ones we think you’ll see right here – many of which, we’re already on top of. We think it’s going to be a year of eating worth celebrating!

Grilled cheese sandwiches: Gooey, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are going to be the new hamburger, according to Andrew Freeman and Company, a restaurant consulting firm, which predicted a slew of yummy-sounding trends for 2012. This one is easy to agree with. One of the most popular sandwiches at our 2go sandwich bar is our Grown-up Grilled Cheese – brie, sharp white cheddar, and charred tomato cream on house-baked Tuscan bread.

Hot potatoes: The Freeman list also predicted a bright future for potatoes – specifically, custom-cut chips, French fry menus and interesting flavors of mashed potatoes. Again, we’re all over it. Have you tried our trio of fries from the 801 Grill? This dish includes sweet potato fries with thyme and garlic, thin-cut fries with sea salt and cracked pepper, and tempura-fried asparagus with parmesan – and they come with three dipping sauces, including a roasted jalapeño ranch and citrus-caper crème.

Local, local, local: This came up in some format on just about every list I came across, whether  referring to seafood, produce, meats or grocery items. And here at FRESH, we’re all about local. At last count, we have more than 100 Texas-made and Texas-grown products, including cheese from Waco, natural meats from Hamilton, shrimp from the Gulf, honey from El Campo, cookies from Dallas, and sauces and grocery items from across the region. And we’re always looking for new ones to add. If you have a favorite local product, check with us about carrying it!

Gluten-free foods: This one got a top spot on the “What’s Hot in 2012” survey of professional chefs, taken by the National Restaurant Association. No surprise to us; We’ve catered to gluten-free eaters since opening.  Nearly 2/3 of an aisle in grocery is dedicated to gluten-free cereals, pastas, pretzels, chips, pancakes mixes and other goodies. And in our frozen section, we carry gluten-free pizzas, burritos, ravioli, frozen meals and more.

Better kids’ food: This theme came up in several ways on several lists, most notably on the National Restaurant Association release. That agency suggested restaurants would take much more care with offerings geared to children, including more wholesome side dishes, more whole grains, and more sophisticated, kid-size portions of adult meals. And, you guessed, here at FRESH, we whole-heartedly agree. That’s why you can buy smaller, child-size portions of scratch-made, chef-prepared meals like mac-n-cheese and spaghetti pomodoro in our chef-prepared section. And why we stock healthier kids’ meals, like the Happy Baby line of premium, organic baby and toddler meals in our frozen area.