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Food Trends: 2008

Food Trends: 2008

"Even mainstream grocers are jumping on, offering and advertising a growing number of locally produced goods. The question is whether 'local' will lose cachet once big box retailers co-opt it as they did organic."
-J.M. Hirsch, The AP

December 26, 2007 —

2007 saw continued growth in the organic foods market, eco-safe fish hitting the shelves at Wal-Mart, and "locavore" voted word of the year by the Oxford American Dictionary. But can we expect ethical eating to fizzle out as a fad or become even bigger in 2008?

The market research firm, Mintel, is predicting a huge growth in the variety of ethical and health conscious brands available in the United States in 2008. Devoted label readers may consider it a hard earned reward for their shopping efforts, but it could be a curse as well as a blessing. If you thought it was difficult to trust the veracity of food labels in 2007, expect things to get even harder in the near future.

The top food buzzwords for 2008: "natural", "local", "organic", "no preservatives" and "sugar free." Of course, with the exception of "organic," none of the these words have much real meaning beyond the fact that some marketing department thought they'd make you more likely to buy the product in question. That's why it will be even more important to become brand-savvy this year. Figure our which products, companies and certification labels you trust.  If you feel like you're being deceived about food product, you probably are.

The good news: You'll be able to find local organic food at stores like Safeway in the near future, and speciality items, like heirloom vegetables, will be even more widely available this year than last. Ethical eaters should be happy that corporate America is starting to catch on—even if most of their initial efforts are hit and miss.

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