Food trends in 2024

Food experts predict that food trends will be shaped by a desire for authenticity, environmental protection, and exciting flavors. They also believe that global flavors will be a big trend, with chefs creating dishes that reflect their diverse backgrounds. Asian ingredients, like black sesame and ube, will become more popular as people will start to appreciate the unique qualities of different Asian cuisines.

Sustainability will be a key focus, with companies creating alternative chocolates that don’t rely on cocoa, which is leading to deforestation. Other companies will try to reduce their water usage by creating products like waterless plant milks. These trends show a move towards food and drink that is not only tasty, but also kind to our planet.

The surprising origins of sushi

According to Executive Sushi Chef Kazunari Araki, sushi is not originally Japanese.

He says the combination of rice and fish began in the 3rd century along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. It was cleaned, gutted and finally covered in a salt and rice mixture for several months in order to preserve it. When the fish was ready for consumption, the rice would be thrown away as it would have become too salty to eat. 

By the 12th century, this process had spread to China, and subsequently Japan, where it was called narezushi. According to Araki, things changed in the 16th century, vinegar replaced salt, which was key to the development of sushi. This also led to the name sushi—which translates to “vinegared rice”.

How Japan became hooked on meat

In 1939, the typical Japanese person only ate 4 grams of meat per day. Today, the average person eats 130 grams, and their favourite meat is pork, not fish as one might expect. One of the reasons for this significant change was the rise of Western influence in Japan.

Japan was known as a vegetarian country in medieval times. The national religions, Buddhism and Shinto, are both in favor of plant-based eating, but the Japanese couldn't eat meat mainly because of a shortage of arable land. As a way of dealing with this problem, Japan’s rulers banned people from eating meat.

With the arrival of the Dutch in the eighteenth century, things changed. The Japanese came to associate the meat-loaded diets of the Europeans with societal success. And in 1872 Emperor Meiji ate meat in public for the first time, automatically lifting the meat-eating ban.

Baking bread is like aging

Nothing smells better than freshly-baked bread. Take it out of the oven, let it cool a little, and cut into it. A puff of steam comes out and fills your house with that amazing aroma.

I've been baking bread for nearly 10 years. I started with a technique called the French knead, or the aptly-named "slap and fold". You pick up the dough then slap it onto the counter. Then turn it, pick it up, and slap it down again. The process is noisy, exhausting, and you end up with tiny bits of dough flying around your kitchen. They stick to the walls and are hard to scrape off. The bread tastes good, but I'm not sure if it's worth it.

Fast-forward to last month. I've refined my process to near perfection. You just put the ingredients in a bowl, stir them for a minute, cover them, and leave them all for a full day. The bread comes together perfectly. There's no mess, it's dead simple, and it tastes amazing.

Ramen: once a black market staple

Ramen is one of Japan’s most popular foods today, with over 10,000 ramen shops in Tokyo alone. However, ramen wasn’t always so ubiquitous in Japanese society. Chinese immigrants introduced it to Japan in the late 19th century. It was originally made with noodles in broth, topped with Chinese-style roast pork. It became an important part of Japanese cuisine in the years immediately after the Second World War.

In December 1945, Japan had its worst rice harvest in 42 years. As a result, the American occupying forces imported large quantities of wheat into Japan, which was used not only for bread, but also to make noodles for ramen, which most Japanese ate at illegal food vendors. Many people relied heavily on the illegal food vendors to survive as the government food distribution system ran up to 20 days behind schedule.

Cook to learn English

English is a tool you can use to do many things. Since English is a global language, you can use it to learn things from different cultures.

A fun way to learn English is cooking. You have to know how to talk about the ingredients, measurements, textures, times and flavor descriptions, and explain the process. And, if you teach cooking in English, your pronunciation needs to be clear enough for others to understand.

Accordingly, in 2015, two English language teachers in Manchester, UK, set up a program called Heart and Parcel. Karolina Koscien and Clare Courtney gather immigrant women together to cook dumplings. Why dumplings? Because "parceled foods" are universal to all cultures. Women from different countries can all come together with their recipes and share their unique histories with each other. Besides language learning, social connections are formed that help the women thrive in their new home.

Perpetual stew

Do you like to eat leftovers? At Wattana Panich bistro in Bangkok, you can have a bowl of soup that's been in the pot for almost 50 years. Known as neua tune, it follows the "perpetual stew" method of preparation: the leftovers at the end of each day are kept overnight to become the base for the next day's soup. 

Cultures all across the world have versions of perpetual stew. In France, it's called pot-au-feu, or "pot in the fire", for the way it was traditionally cooked—in a pot that hung over the hearth fire all day. Other cultures' versions of perpetual stew include Chinese master stock, Mongolian Firepot, and Olla Podrida (literally, "rotten pot") in Spain. In the U.S., we have "hunter's stew", and the wonderfully named "Skilligalee" of pioneer times.

A woman in the whisky business

Bessie Williamson (1910-1982) was a woman in a man's industry. She ran a whisky distillery in Scotland at a time when women weren't managers in any business, let alone the whisky business. But Williamson worked her way up from a typist to the owner and CEO of the Laphroaig [lah-FROYG] distillery, becoming a well-respected boss and highly successful manager. She brought Laphroaig distillery through difficult times during WWII and began a far-reaching modernization process before retiring.

Williamson was known in the business as the "Islay Labour Exchange" because she found a job for almost everyone who needed one. And if workers didn't have a pension plan, she kept them on well past the usual age of retirement. Her employees were always first in her mind, even in the hard times.

My trip to Taiwan

Travelling can be a lot of fun. I have lived abroad for over two years in Asia and Europe. I take trips for different reasons. One of them is food.

When I lived in Vietnam, I decided to go visit Taiwan for a week. I knew the food would be great since I had watched food shows about Taiwanese food. However, I did not realize just how amazing it would be. I tried stinky tofu, different Taiwanese soups and Dan-Dan, a spicy dry ramen dish. I sometimes ate two breakfasts or two lunches because I wanted to try everything at the markets, so I was never hungry. At the end of my week in Taiwan, I had gained five kilos (10 pounds)!

I decided to move to Taiwan six months later, but I became a lot more careful about weight gain.

abroad /uh-BRAWD/ [adverb]—in or to a foreign country or countries

The origin of the English pub

Atlas Obscura, a publication about travel and culture, notes that a pub has always been more than just a place that sells beer for the British. The pub has brought communities together for centuries, and the tavern tradition of spending the evening with your peers continues to this day. Few know, however, that pubs became popular following the plague known as the Black Death of the 14th century.

The Black Death killed nearly half of England's population after it reached the British Isles in 1348. By the 1370s, it had caused a critical labor shortage. Eventually, this proved a boon for the peasantry of England, who could demand higher wages for their work and achieve higher standards of living. As a result, households selling or giving away leftover ale were replaced by more commercialized, permanent establishments set up by the best brewers and offering better food.

Indonesia bans palm oil exports

In late April, the Indonesian government announced a temporary ban on exports of crude palm oil and its refined products, such as cooking oil. The decision came as a surprise to commercial goods traders as the government had previously stated the ban would only apply to refined products. After the government’s initial statement, prices of crude palm oil significantly fluctuated given uncertainties about what products the ban would cover. Prices have again skyrocketed in light of the most recent announcement.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the world has seen a wave of food protectionism, as governments seek to protect domestic food supplies in light of surging agricultural prices. As the world’s largest edible oils shipper, providing one third of global supplies, Indonesia threatens to worsen global food inflation with its decision and raises the risk of a full-blown hunger crisis.

Surge in online grocery shopping

According to CNN, the outbreak of the coronavirus is pushing many Americans to buy their groceries online. With shoppers stuck in their homes, downloads of Walmart's grocery app and Shipt increased by 160%, and 124%, respectively, in early March compared with the same period last year. Instacart more than tripled, increasing by 218%!

While shopping for books and electronics online, and ordering dinner through delivery apps, have become the norm in American life, before the coronavirus outbreak most customers still preferred to purchase their meat and vegetables at the store. Last year, only 4% of grocery sales in the United States were made online.

According to a survey by analysts at Gordon Haskett Research Advisor, a third of consumers said that they had purchased groceries for online pickup or delivery in March, 2020. Around 41% said they were buying groceries online for the first time.

No foie gras in California

California has been trying to ban the delicacy foie gras for quite some time. The French dish is well-known in fine dining, but it is made from the liver of a duck or goose that has been force-fed to increase the fat content. Many have said the process constitutes animal cruelty.

The ban was passed into law back in 2004, but it was phased in gradually. It finally went into full effect in 2012, at which time foie gras producers promptly sued the state government. Fast forward to 2015, and a federal judge overturned the ban, stating that it was unconstitutional and went against federal poultry law.

Two years after that, the higher Ninth Circuit court ruled 3-0 that the federal judge had made an error, and allowed California to keep the ban. Again, foie gras producers appealed, this time to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, making the previous Ninth Circuit ruling final. 

No stars for Sukiyabashi Jiro

For many restaurants, receiving a Michelin star (or two, or three) is one of the best ways to gain world-class status in the culinary world. It is also guaranteed to attract international media attention and bring in new business.

Although it is extremely difficult to earn Michelin stars, the Japanese restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro has earned the maximum three stars every year since 2007. But things are about to change. It was recently announced that the restaurant will be left out of the 2020 Michelin Guide because it no longer accepts public reservations. Since Michelin’s aim is to introduce top-notch restaurants to the general public, Sukiyabashi Jiro no longer falls within their rating criteria.

Food collective you can trust

Seikatsu Club is a huge food cooperative, founded in 1965 by a group of women in Japan, which has exacting standards on everything from radioactivity levels to the number of additives in food.

Their initial focus was on bringing down the price of milk for households by securing bulk-purchase discounts. Fast-forward five decades and Seikatsu is now a sprawling operation of nearly 400,000 members (90% women) that runs its own milk factory and has food supply agreements with about 200 outside producers. In addition, some of the production is now done by workers collectives that are part of the cooperative.

Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper delivery

Walmart and Rakuten will co-create an online grocery service in Japan that will launch in 2018. The service will be operated by Rakuten and Seiyu GK, a Walmart subsidiary, and will be called “Rakuten Seiyu Netsuper.”

Walmart, via Seiyu, has operated a grocery delivery business in Japan since 2000. This new co-branded service will replace that, the company says.

Some customers’ orders will continue to be fulfilled by their local Seiyu store, as before. But depending on their geography, other customers’ orders may come from a new, dedicated fulfillment center operated by Walmart and Rakuten. The center, which is an existing building Walmart owns, will be exclusively used for online grocery.

World's best chef feeds the hungry

Massimo Bottura is one of the world's greatest chefs. He has made it his mission to put an end to global hunger and believes that technology can make this a reality.

"The refrigerator and freezer revolutionized how we use food. They keep food fresh for much longer, but they’ve also made the visible, invisible." he explains. When you can’t see the food, it’s easier to let it go to waste. “Increasing the supply of food is not what we need. What we need to do is stop wasting it." Currently, about one third of the world's food is thrown away while 800 million people are malnourished.

Bottura founded the nonprofit organisation “Food for Soul” to help communities around the world put an end to food waste. Food for Soul has set up community kitchens, called "Refettorios," in several cities around the world where renowned chefs cook healthy meals for guests using surplus ingredients. 

Exchanging desk jobs for farming

After more than a decade working in tech, Kimbal Musk (brother of famous technologist Elon Musk) decided to lean into his true passion: local food. He now runs a chain of local food-focused restaurants called The Kitchen, as well as Big Green, a national nonprofit that builds educational gardens in public schools.

So it might not be surprising that he expects a growing number of young Americans to join him in the local farming movement.

When asked to name a big food trend looking forward into 2018, Musk said he sees millennials flocking to careers in agriculture rather than traditional office jobs.

Amazon cuts Whole Foods prices Inc. spent its first day as the owner of a brick-and-mortar grocery chain cutting prices at Whole Foods Market as much as 43 percent.

In a sign of how the retailer is changing, the Amazon Echo, a voice-activated electronic assistant, was also for sale, for $99.99—a sharp pivot into electronics for a company known for kale and quinoa. The Echo Dot, a smaller version, was advertised for $44.99.