Top food trends to look for in 2012

The James Beard Foundation has up a list of trends for the coming year from a chef's perspective. They include:

New Nordic Pantry
Chefs are hopping on the Noma-inspired New-Nordic-Cuisine train and are reaching for these ingredients: sea buckthorn (a tart orange berry), wood sorrel (a plant with heart-shaped leaves), bark flour (made from real trees), and evergreens (such as Douglas fir). To wit: a recent Douglas fir eau-de-vie sighting on the menu at GT Fish & Oyster in Chicago.

Locavorism, Redefined
Taking his lead from the Cook it Raw crew, Charleston’s Sean Brock is striving to revive the cooking of the South’s antebellum period, teaming up with foragers and historians to rescue heirlooms from obscurity or extinction. We’re hopeful that his efforts will spark a similar curiosity in chefs working in other regions of this country.

Cooking with Douglas fir? Foraging? I like it.

Here are the 2012 food trends from Phil Lempert at Food and Nutrition Science that include higher costs, more male shoppers, and the ethnic food revolution. My favorite:

Trend #4: Increased emphasis on the “Farm to Fork” journey

Shoppers have become increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from, which is why 2012 will bring an added emphasis to a different kind of food celebrity – the farmer. Last year we saw sales flourish among grocery retailers who jumped on the movement among consumers to “buy local.” In this age of transparency, interest in the farm to fork journey has grown considerably, inspired in part by food safety scares and more importantly a desire to know how the food we are serving our families is being produced.

This year, we’re seeing more farmers get in on the action. A growing number of farmers are leading the conversation by using blogs and social media sites to bring the story of the American farmer to consumers. According to the American Farm Bureau’s 2010 Young Farmers and Ranchers Survey, nearly 99% of farmers and ranchers aged 18 to 35 have access to and use the Internet, and nearly three-quarters of those surveyed have a Facebook page. Additionally, 10% use Twitter and 12% post YouTube videos. In fact, 77% of those surveyed view this type of communication as an important part of their jobs as farmers and ranchers. In September of this year, the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) launched an annual $11 million program designed to open the dialogue with consumers. Expect to see more advertising and television programs starring these real food experts (versus actors pretending to know their food).

And according the big New York J. Walter Thompson Ad Agency this will be the year of food-waste consciousness. From their 2012 things to watch for slide show here is one of their meta trends:

Food as the new Eco-issue: The environmental impact of our food choices will become a bigger concern, driving greater brand and consumer awareness and action around Curbing Food Waste.

I predict that in 2012 we'll see a growing interest in food and food traditions from people of faith.