Meatballs and butchers are hot!

We’re so predictable. The media, that is.

At the close of one year and the start of the next, readers and viewers are bombarded with headlines like “The Year’s Top Stories” (or as seen this year: “The Decade’s Top Stories”). Turn the page or click the remote and the next headline is “What’s Coming in 2010.”

Prognosticators (a fancy word for people who predict things, but it’s really fun to say) have made their list of technology trends, retail trends, textile trends, Web and social media trends. Heck, Forbes magazine even had a list of the semiconductor mega-trends for 2010. (Believe it or not, it was a pretty interesting article and even mentioned agriculture!)

One set of trend articles that grabbed my attention this year, however, highlighted the 2010 food trends.

The last time I checked, farming had something to do with food, so I wanted to know what was tapped to be “hot” this year, and whether or not farmers could benefit.

The first set of predictions came from the James Beard Foundation, where I found this good news: Meatballs are rolling back into the scene. Bon Appetit magazine also crowned meatballs its Dish of the Year. The experts said meatballs are “comfort food”, homey, economical and versatile.

I hope the checkoff foodies are paying attention, too, and ramping up their collection of meatball recipes to distribute.

Epicurious pushed fried chicken to the front burner this year, as well as lamb (one source proclaims: “Lamb is the new pork, and lamb neck is the new bacon!”), potlucks and butchers (New York Times declared “they turn death into life,” and Julie & Julia author Julie Powell is about to publish Cleaving, which details her foray into the butcher’s domain.)

Another health/food trend that continues to grow is building your immunity with foods. Think yogurt, raspberries, garlic, the omega-3s in fish, and … beef.

Beef? Yep. Prevention Magazine reports that zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutritional shortfalls in American adults, and even a slight deficiency increases your risk of infection. Beef is a prime source of the mineral.

Also good news for farmers is that local food remains at the top of the trend list (link opens .pdf) prepared by the National Restaurant Association. The association polled members of the American Culinary Federation and the chefs put locally grown produce at No. 1, and locally sources meats and seafood at No. 2. Sustainability, another trend for producers to note, came in at No. 3.

Moving up on the chefs’ list, at No. 8, are farm- or estate-branded ingredients. This is a new arena, since most of our farm products are sold as commodities. Direct farm marketers, however, know the value of branding, and the connection consumers make with “their” farmer through that brand.

There is also value in the state-branded programs, like Ohio Proud, or Pride of New York.

Oh, and by the way, the experts also declared Brussels sprouts, eggs and rabbit to be foods to watch in 2010. Diversify now and you’ll be ahead of the pack. At least until polenta, purslane and Arctic char top the 2011 list.

The larger trend that is unspoken on all these lists is that food — knowing where your food comes from — is growing in importance. And that’s won’t ever go out of style, and requires your role in spreading that news.

About the Author

Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell has been with the paper since 1985, serving as its editor since 1989. Raised on a farm in Holmes County, she is a graduate of Kent State University.You can follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scrowell and follow Farm and Dairy at http://twitter.com/farmanddairy. You can also find her on Google+ and Facebook. More Stories by Susan Crowell

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