Man in apronMen in aprons are sexy. OK, not all men, and not all aprons. But pie is good!Photo: Carol BrowneIt’s the end of the year, and that means publications everywhere are ramping up their Best/Worst/Most Lists and Trends to Watch in 2011. (Grist is no exception. Hey, we’ve got our own holiday baking and recycled gift-wrapping to do too, you know — and lists are way easier than hard-hitting investigations!)

The Food Channel website worked with some marketing firms to assemble what is in fact a pretty good list of the top trends we saw take shape this year — although they’re actually calling it “Top 10 Trends for 2011.” The website’s editors say that thanks to our crappy economy, the kind of things Grist readers get excited about are finally going more mainstream. Basically, bye-bye food porn and restaurant one-upmanship, hello do-it-yourself, make-it-don’t-buy-it values: “The new food simplicity is about putting value on the independent grower, on the person who is striving to make a difference — one farm, one person, one business at a time.”

Here’s the short version of the list — the website features interesting extended riffs on each one:

  1. The Canning Comeback – Food preservation has a rejuvenation.
  2. Men in Aprons – A gender role reversal is bubbling up in the kitchen.
  3. Local Somewhere – Support a local grower … anywhere. 
  4. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – Sometimes we don’t want to know the nutrition numbers.
  5. Appetite for Food Apps – Discount eats make the new smart phone apps delicious.
  6. Small is the New Big Business – Getting closer to the customer.
  7. Fresh Every Day – Rediscovering the butcher, baker, and cheese maker.
  8. Chefs in Schools – Living up to their pledge, chefs join the cafeteria crews.
  9. Discomfort Foods – Eating your way out of your comfort zone.
  10. Eating for Sex and Other Things – Looking for foods that keep us young, strong and active.

I have some quibbles, of course. I’d say preserving is gaining in popularity not just for its economical appeal, but for its community-fostering aspects — I know loads of people having canning parties and swapping jams, etc. And I’d like to think men aren’t turning to cooking just because they’re unemployed, but because they’ve discovered that, like these thoughtful Grist commenters, such “domestic” chores can be both fun and manly.

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And No. 10? I suspect that was so the editors could get sex into the social-media marketing blast that accompanied the list.

No. 4 has the most likelihood of being a trend for 2011. It’s actually about the backlash against the good food movement that’s been brewing in response to posted calorie counts, fast-food bans, and all the other hallmarks of the “food police.” And while the food movement has prided itself on being non-partisan, this backlash is rapidly breaking down by class and political party lines, as Tom Laskawy wrote recently.

What do you think, astute Grist readers? What other developments will we continue to see in food next year?


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