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The End of Diets — and 4 More Future Food Trends We’re Excited About

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I’ve drastically changed my eating habits over the last few years. Not because I’ve had some big awakening or lifestyle crisis, but because my tastes, my views, and my needs have changed. More importantly though, what’s available has changed. It’s not out of the question to find a restaurant in my small-ish town that makes its burgers out of local grass-fed beef or to find farm fresh eggs at a regular grocery store. The farmer’s market has turned from a small corner market to a large, crowded, family event. People don’t look at me cross-eyed (or as cross-eyed, at least) when I say I drink almond milk or I mention putting coconut oil in my coffee.

Although there’s still room for improvement, even fast food chains have started offering healthier options like apple slices and grilled nuggets. There’s no denying it. The big picture is changing when it comes to food. Believe it or not, healthy food is actually becoming popular. Glamorous, even. Thank goodness. It’s about time. It’s hard enough to live a healthy life without having to search high and low for options to help you stay on track or to fight the mainstream attitude when it comes to food. Luckily, that’s slowly (but surely) changing. USA Today checked in with several food experts to scope out their opinion on the future of our food supply and what food trends are on the horizon. I have to say, it’s fairly refreshing. Here are some of the changes you may see in the next few years and how you can jump ahead of the trend by getting on board with these habits now.

5 Future Food Trends and How to Get on Board Now:

1. Ads for broccoli

This is my favorite food trend prediction, so it has to be listed first. Alongside ads for chocolate milk, potato chips, and greasy burgers, we might just be seeing ads for broccoli (nope, not a typo – broccoli) and hopefully other vegetables, as well. This almost unbelievable phenomenon has already gotten a slow start, with orange juice ads showcasing the groves the fruit grows in and salad dressing ads glamorizing the veggies you can dip in it. This may not seem like an important prospect, but it is. Making healthy food cheaper is one of the best ways to make it more accessible to the masses. Though it sounds backwards at first, paying money to display and distribute advertisements is one way to get more people to buy a product, and the more people that buy it, the cheaper it gets. Though it won’t be easy, branding and marketing fresh produce could be the way to have it compete with the junk food that’s currently dominating the market.

How to get on board now: Glamorize vegetables in your own home. Make fruits and veggies the star of the meal. Instead of making them an obligation (like something your kids have to eat before they get dessert), make them fun and desirable. Try adding dips and sauces to make them seem more fun and extraordinary. To cut down on cost, try growing your own or check out a local farmer’s market, co-op, or CSA.

2. More farm-to-table options

It used to be pretty hard to find a farm-to-table atmosphere, especially in cities that are far away from rural areas where the farming is happening. But it’s getting more and more popular and they’re popping up in unexpected places. From restaurants that only source ingredients from local farms to companies that specialize in delivering local produce straight to your door, farm-to-table is no longer an unheard of concept. We used to be able to drive to one farm an hour away twice a year that served a special “farm-to-table” meal. Now we can drive down the street and sit down at a locally sourced café anytime we want to get the same experience.

How to get on board now: Try planting a backyard or container garden with easy-to-grow veggies and herbs, then focus on using them as you cook throughout the week. If you’re not ready to brave it yourself, seek out a local farm or restaurant that specializes in the farm-to-table approach and give it a try.

3. Rise in homegrown foods

As an extension of the farm-to-table and growing farmer’s market phenomenon, more and more people are expected to start growing their own food. Whether this started as an economic response or a health approach, the idea is growing rather rapidly. From herb gardens and front porch container gardens full of veggies to backyard chicken coops, people are more excited about producing their own food even if they don’t live on a farm or in a rural area. The National Gardening Association reports that the number of households growing their own food is up 24 percent since 2007.

How to get on board now: Try planting a few containers of easy-to-grow veggies like zucchini, tomatoes, or herbs. If you don’t have the space to do it at home (although you don’t need much), look for a gardening co-op in your community or find a neighbor that could house a chicken or two for you. You’d be surprised what’s allowed in some city limits when it comes to animals! Better still, get your kids involved in the growing process. They’ll likely be more willing to try something healthy if they’ve helped throughout the growing process.

4. Eating “healthy” will taste good

This one excited me. Healthy food used to get such a bad rap for tasting bad and being boring. Now, we’re starting to see a shift into healthy food actually tasting delicious and being the star of the show, instead of being relegated to the back lower corner of a menu as an obligation. It’s amazing how delicious healthy, simple food can be, and chefs are starting to use their skills for good. People used to expect to go out to eat and dig into an indulgent meal, but now indulgence can actually be good for us. USA Today cites examples of companies lowering the sugar content of foods they’re producing, not because they have to, but because they want to. They also note examples of specialty restaurants, like vegan ones, being frequented by non-vegans, simply because it’s available and it actually tastes good.

How to get on board now: Put a healthy spin on some of your family’s favorite dishes that you’re already creating. Try fruit-based desserts instead of sugar-laden baked goods or protein-rich breakfasts instead of the same old bowl of cereal.

5. Say goodbye to diets

In the same manner that non-vegans are dining at vegan restaurants, people are following food trends for the sake of health, not because they’re engaging in a fad, per se. People are opting for gluten- and dairy-free lifestyles because it makes them feel better, not just because they have allergies or a crazy, trendy diet book tells them too (although there’s still plenty of that going on, mind you). The fact that these products and lifestyles have become more mainstream makes them more accessible and easier to follow. When I first eliminated dairy from my diet, I dreaded going to restaurants because everything was cooked in butter. Now, not only am I dairy-free, but gluten-free and soy-free, and surprisingly it’s actually gotten easier to eat out despite the additional requirements.

How to get on board now: Experiment with different dietary approaches, either at home or when you’re dining out. Try going meatless (or even vegan) at least once a week. See what you think of a gluten-free entrée or a dairy-free dessert. If you’re nervous about experimenting with your own recipes (there are plenty to choose from online), find a restaurant that serves a different style of food than you’re used to eating, just for the experience.

What future food trends are you hoping to see happen down the road? What are you doing to promote some of these habits in your own home?

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