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Food Trends 2017: Farmers, Foodies and Producers of Food Products, Part 2

NRAshow20Beyond-Meat-alternativeCROP

As I alluded to in my first post with John Ivanko, we were amazed by the breadth of food and beverage offerings at the nation’s largest, annual food-service trade show, the NRA Show, hosted by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center.

Perhaps this comes as no surprise since the food service and hospitality industry is booming right now, with many a farmer or homesteader supplying the chefs, cooks and restaurateurs with fresh, seasonal produce, grass-raised meat products, or organic, free-range eggs. Or perhaps you, like us, have struck out on your own and started up a farmstay B&B or offer on-farm food service of some sort or another. Given the economy, there’s no shortage of customers willing to pony up for a great pizza from a wood-fired oven or sumptuous B&B breakfast.

“Menu trends today are beginning to shift from ingredient-based items to concept-based ideas, mirroring how consumers tend to adapt their activities to their overall lifestyle philosophies, such as environmental sustainability and nutrition,” says Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of Research for the National Restaurant Association. Nettle, daikon radish, garlic scapes and wild-foraged mushrooms are just some of the many items you might entice a local chef, eager to embrace these culinary trends.

“Also among the top trends for 2017, we’re seeing several examples of house-made food items and various global flavors, indicating that chefs and restaurateurs are further experimenting with from-scratch preparation and a broad base of flavors,” adds Riehle.

Here are a few more food trends and innovations surfaced as we wandered the aisles of the NRA Show in 2017, many well suited for growers prepared to take advantage of them:

Ginger Bubbles are Big

Ginger may be the biggest oldest newest thing. Used for centuries for medicinal and culinary purposes, ginger kept popping up throughout the NRA show, particularly in the beverage category.  But this isn’t your grandma’s ginger ale from the supermarket shelf. 

Companies like Bruce Cost use fresh ginger and cane sugar, adding up to a not-too-sweet sipping soda.  Hipster adult sodas take it a step further by adding additional exotic flavors such as such the Joia Life All Natural Soda’s Ginger Apricot Allspice.  The growing popularity of Moscow Mule cocktails provide an on-ramp for more ginger beer, a key ingredient in this drink traditionally served in copper mugs. It’s no surprise that craft cocktail mixer company Powell & Mahoney earned the 2017 NRA Food and Beverage Innovation award for their Blood Orange Ginger Beer.

Meatless Burgers

While veggie burgers and meat alternatives have been around a while, some new products on the market now vie for the best flavor and texture combo. They’re so good that you just might be able to fool a meat-based hamburger devotee. Of course, satisfying a vegan is easy. Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burgers are juicy, sizzle when they cook, and even “bleed” like real meat, thanks to the beet juice inside.

Beyond Burger looks and cooks just like ground beef. It contains no soy, no gluten and is GMO free. It’s 100% plant based, with peas being one of the main ingredients, and packs a satisfying protein punch of 20 grams. As many a vegetarian will attest, moving to a more plant-protein-based diet can help head off the impacts of climate change, improve human health and conserve the environment. Eating Beyond Burgers, especially with your farm-fresh lettuce, tomatoes and red onions, does so in a tasty way; if you make your own buns, pickles, mayo and relish, all the better. You’ll find Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burgers in the meat section of a growing number of grocery stores throughout the country, including Kroger, Safeway and Whole Foods Market.

NRA-show-chips_4935 

Serve Me a Story

Of course, the product needs to taste good, but something packed with both flavor and meaning really strikes a connection with today’s more discerning customers.  Detroit Friends Potato Chips exemplify this “food with meaning” movement.  Not your typical start-up, this venture launched not just to make quality potato chips but as a community effort to revitalize the Hope District of Detroit, Michigan, once a thriving part of town now scattered with vacant lots. Tens of thousands of dollars have been raised for the soup kitchen and other activities.

“Potatoes are perhaps the world's most popular vegetable,” says Michael Wimberley, founder of Detroit Friends Potato Chips Co. “We started growing them for that reason. And we thought they would be easy to grow. Potato chips were a natural extension for us. Motown is the potato chips exemplar for consumption.” There’s several flavors of Detroit Friends Potato Chips to crunch on: lemon pepper, sea salt and onion and celery, and barbecue.

Disposables that Go in the Compost Bin

It’s no longer unusual to see compost bins alongside recycling and trash bins at a growing lineup of conferences, fairs and other public events.   As more events strive to go “zero waste” by recycling or composting all the “disposable” dishes and utensils, the industry has responded with an amazing array of plant-based, compostable items.

PacknWood showcased a wide range of eco-friendly plates, cups, lunchboxes and trays and utensils; they had tableware made out of the leaves of palms, plates made out of bamboo. Even the NRA got into the swing of things by encouraging their exhibitors to use compostable service ware and plates; it was clear to us when visiting many of the booths that the restaurateurs, chefs and vendors enthusiastically embraced the appeal to shun the plastics and Styrofoam.

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband and photographer, John D. Ivanko, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living”. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of Lisa's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Corn Chowder Base for Freezer Storage

 

When finally the corn is ready in the garden or the best sweet corn appears in the produce market, we greedily cook more ears than we could eat. Don’t toss the extra ears in the compost — make corn chowder. Drop the leftover corn in a plastic bag and refrigerate it until you can find an hour to cook up some delicious chowder. Corn chowder base freezes very well and will be a huge treat when you heat some up this winter. Waste not, want not.

I took my recipe ideas from chefs and corn lovers Michael Chiarello and Jacques Pepin, then added in my love of bacon. If you avoid bacon or want a vegetarian version, by all means sauté the vegetables in good olive oil. I wait to add potato until I heat the soup for serving, because potatoes get soggy when frozen.

Of course, homemade, strong chicken stock is always best, but I use the Better Than Bouillon paste. On a recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen, they did a blind taste testing of chicken stock. The brand I had in my cupboard at the time was pronounced “road-kill raccoon” and the Better Than Bouillon chicken was given second place, but it was pointed out that it also lasts in the refrigerator for at least two years and so was the best buy.

Multiply or divide my recipe according to the amount of corn you have. A medium-sized ear yields about a cup of kernels. The amounts below will yield about 3 quarts of base and up to 6 quarts of finished chowder.

Ingredients:

• 4 thick slices bacon
• 1 large onion, diced
• 1 cup diced celery
• 12 cups cut sweet corn kernels
• 4 cups corn stock
• 1 tbsp chicken Better Than Bouillon paste
• sea salt and pepper to taste

To serve:

• Equal part milk, preferably whole milk

• Optional: diced cooked potato

• Additional sea salt and pepper to taste

• Garnish: parsley, sliced green part of scallion

Directions:

 1. The corn should be cooked for at least a couple minutes, but it’s fine if it is completely cooked, leftover. Use a shallow bowl or a small tray to contain the kernels as you cut. Hold the ears upright and slice down the cob, cutting away the kernels and then scraping down to get all the scraps. Don’t toss the cobs!

2. Make corn stock. Put the cobs in a pot with water to barely cover, bring to a simmer and simmer for about a half hour, letting the water reduce to 4 cups at the end. Now you can toss the cobs into the compost. *See note below.

4. While the corn stock is simmering, sauté the bacon very slowly to render as much fat as possible. Dice the onion and celery. When the bacon is rendered, set it aside and add the onion and celery to the bacon fat in the pan. Sauté over medium heat a few minutes, scraping the fond from the bottom of the pan, which will dissolve in the moisture. Now add the corn kernels, stir in and continue to sauté another couple minutes.

4. Stir in the Better Than Bouillon chicken base, then add the corn stock. Simmer for a few minutes until the corn stock is reduced by half and the veggies are tender. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Cool the mixture, and then crumble the bacon and add it in.

5. Freeze your chowder base in appropriate portion sizes in either freezer zipper bags or plastic containers. Two cups of base will make 1 quart of finished chowder.

6. When ready to serve, defrost the chowder base and add as much milk as you have base. Heat until piping hot, but don’t boil. Taste and correct seasoning of sea salt and pepper to your taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish as you wish.

* Note: Don’t take this as Veterinary advice — ask your veterinarian if you’re not sure. I have given fresh corn cobs to horses, a very grateful milk cow and even let a large dog gnaw on one. Not too many, of course.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

The Natural Pantry: How to Add Nutritious Dehydrated Foods to Your Food Pantry

dehydrated foods for long-term food storage pantry

One thing I like to tell my readers at Ready Nutrition is to eat the food that you store. A way to do this is to take some of the food that you normally eat (fruits, vegetables, meats, etc.) and dehydrate them for later use. Doing so ensures you have your favorite foods on hand when you need it the most. For centuries, dehydrating food was used as the go-to method of expanding and maintaining a nutritious pantry. Nowadays, food has become more expensive, and with the added preservatives and artificial colorings, many are starting to consider the old ways of living are healthier than the modern one. Dehydrating food is a fast and affordable way to ensure you have all the right kinds of food at your disposal with minimal investment.

As well, this is a frugal way to use up any fresh foods whose shelf life needs extending. Any fruits or vegetables that my family does not eat gets sliced and dehydrated for pantry snacks. As well, I purchase meats in the discount aisle at the grocery store and slice it for jerky or dried meats for sauces and soups.   

The Dehydration Process Minimally Effects Food Sources

The dehydration process removes moisture from the food so that bacteria, yeast, and mold cannot grow. The added benefit is the dehydration process minimally affects the nutritional content of food. In fact, when using an in-home dehydration unit, 3%-5% of the nutritional content is lost compared to the canning method which loses 60%-80% of the nutritional content.  Additionally, vitamins A and C, carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, magnesium, selenium and sodium are not altered or lost in the drying process. Therefore, the result is nutrient packed food that can be stored long term.

Fruits and vegetables are not the only food sources you can dehydrate. In the book, The Prepper’s Cookbook, I outline the multiple ways that one can use a dehydrator: vegetables, fruits, make jerky, make fruit or vegetable leather, dry herbs, spices, soup mixes, noodles, and even crafts. As well, you can make tasty “just add water” meals to your pantry for those busy days. When I began dehydrating foods, I purchased a modest dehydrator. Then, I realized how much I loved it and got a higher end model.

 Essential Rules to Follow When Dehydrating

Before you go crazy dehydrating, keep in mind that there are a few rules to follow to ensure food longevity, freshness, and prevention of discoloration. 

You can dehydrate any fruit or vegetable, regardless of quality or ripeness. If something is too ripe and soft, you can always puree it and dry the puree. Although using the best quality fruits and veggies will result in the best quality dried goods, remember that the goal here is preservation, not perfection. So don’t be afraid to dehydrate the bruised, overripe, and slightly damaged goods. Just make sure not to put mold in the dehydrator as it can spread and infect the rest of the foods.

Some food items can be air-dried. Herbs and other green leafy food sources, in particular, do not necessarily need a dehydrator. They can be set out on the way and air-dried.

Some foods need to be blanched. Blanching certain foods like onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes ahead of time will limit discoloration and the risk of food-borne illnesses. While it isn’t necessary, it certainly helps in the longevity of your dried foods.

Cook potatoes thoroughly for further enjoyment. Potatoes, beans, and other root vegetables should be cooked thoroughly and then dehydrated. I’ve made a pot of beans and dehydrated them for soups. I have also made dehydrated potato flakes to use in my prepper pantry.

Don’t dehydrate foods from different families at the same time. If you are dehydrating foods from different family groups, the flavors can cross over. For instance, if you are dehydrating tomatoes and peppers, note that the tomatoes will end up being spicy. As well, any Brassica should be dried on its own. Otherwise, the sulfur taste will permeate into the other foods. The only exception is dehydrating fruits. Fruits can be mixed together, but mixing them with strong tasting or smelling vegetables is not recommended.

Be consistent with your cut size and spacing. Try to keep the slices of food the same thickness to encourage even drying times. As well, try not to allow the food to touch one another or overlap (green leafy vegetables are ok though). Otherwise, it can block the airflow and prevent drying. 

Storage Life for Dehydrated Foods 

In most cases, dehydrated food can be stored for up to a year. Once dehydrated, the food shrinks in size and does not take up a lot of space and can be stored in a more organized fashion. For example, one pound of apples roughly turns into two ounces of dried apples. How’s that for space efficiency? 

1. Fruits and vegetables can last for up to 1 year if properly stored.

2. Dried meats should be consumed within 2-3 months.  However, it is suggested that if dried meats have not been consumed after one month, they should be stored in the refrigerator to prolong the freshness.

3. Herbs can last for years.

4. Noodles should be eaten within one year to enjoy the freshness. 

Dehydrating foods is a cost-effective solution to creating a nutritious and delicious pantry and use up any existing food you already have. Next time, we will discuss some cost efficient solutions to supplementing your food pantry!


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Low-Sugar Fig Preserves Recipe

Fig Preserves On English Muffin

I’ve had fig trees for many years, but the grasshoppers killed them and I have missed them. The gift of 5 pounds of figs from an organic farm was a thrill. These had to be made into the best jam I could concoct — better than I’d ever made in years past.

Thinking of places where figs grow in common abundance, even wild out of rock crevasses, this is my recipe for the best fig jam I’ve ever tasted. The reduced sugar allows the flavor of the figs to shine through and adding orange and vanilla enhances the flavor of figs.

Ingredients:

Makes 10 half-pints

• 5 pounds fresh, very ripe figs
• 4 cups cane sugar
• candied zest of one orange
• 1 vanilla bean

Note on alternative ingredients: If you didn’t make candied peels last winter, substitute just the zest of a large orange, stripped off with a potato peeler. If you don’t have vanilla beans, substitute a tablespoon of real vanilla extract.

Directions:

1. Measure the sugar into the work bowl of your food processor. Add in the orange peel and process until the peel is tiny specks. Doing this also pulverizes the sugar to “super fine” so it dissolves more easily.

2. Put the sugar back into the measuring cup and put the figs into the processor and pulse until the figs are nicely chopped with still some larger pieces. Do this about a third at a time. Don’t crowd them and don’t process too long — you do not want a puree, just chopped. As they’re done, pour the figs into your jam pot. Then pour the sugar over the top.

3. Give the mixture a quick stir, then leave it while you get out jars, your water bath pot, and equipment. Make sure your jars are impeccably clean with no chips. Fill the water bath with hot water and put it on to heat.

4. The fig mixture will be juicing out and the sugar starting to dissolve. Give it a more thorough stir and let it sit again. It takes at least 1 hour for the mixture to be syrupy with no dry sugar showing.

5. If you’re using a vanilla bean, put that into the figs now and put the pot over medium heat. Stir frequently, the mixture is thick and could scorch if not attended. Bring the jam to a slow boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer, still stirring frequently.

6. Now dip your jars and equipment, ladle and funnel, and put the jars upside down on a clean towel next to the stove.

7. Continue to cook the jam, stirring for about 15 minutes. It will be very thick, easily coating the spoon. Scrape down the sides of the pot back into the jam. When the jam looks very translucent and shiny, it’s ready.

8. Remove the vanilla bean or add the vanilla extract. Turn off the heat and ladle the jam into jars. Seal and process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove to a towel leaving space between the jars to cool. Allow the jars of jam plenty of time to cool and “ping”, then label (including the year), and store in a dark place.

9, Rinse the vanilla bean and replace it in a bottle with a little vodka or brandy — you can use it a few times.

Wendy Akin is happy to share her years of traditional skills knowledge. Over the years, she’s earned many state fair ribbons for pickles, relishes, preserves and special condiments, and even a few for breads. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Perfect Weather Produces a Plethora of Peaches (with a Recipe for Stir-fry)

Peaches1

Because of where we live in Ohio, Growing Zone 6a, our peach production can vary widely. Some years can bring a killing (or at least severely limiting) frost at just the wrong time for the blossoms and young fruit; other years can conspire against a good crop with ill-timed rain or drought conditions. This year, we had just the right combination of sunny warmth and sumptuous rains to gift us with a bevy of peaches.

I was able to harvest four and a half buckets of yummy fruit, leaving the hardest to reach for the birds without regret. We had fresh, sumptuous peaches for breakfast and dessert every day for ten luscious days. I froze bags for future use. Some of our sliced bits of sweetness currently sit in mead turning it into melomel. I also threw some halves into a jar with my favorite concoction to create a version of rumtopf for the holidays this winter.

Before we were all peached out, I decided to try a more unusual sampling that raised a high eyebrow from my husband when I mentioned it—peaches with chicken, stir-fry style. Thankfully, he’s an adventurous eater and was rather pleasantly surprised with the dinner created that night.

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The recipe below (like most of my recipes) is tailored to our particular palates. I would urge you to try it as is and then change it at will to bring smiles to your own faces. Add more spice with the heat of some chiles or alter the amounts of ginger and garlic. Throwing in more vegetables is a great way of changing things up—I happened to have kale in abundance from the garden just then. Another way to shift this recipe would be to add the peaches at the last minute for more intact peaches.

Peach Ginger Chicken

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1-2 chicken breasts (cubed)
1 tsp ginger (grated)
1 tsp garlic (chopped or minced)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin (cooking wine)
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 peach (diced or sliced)
2 leaves kale (chopped)
oil (for cooking)
sesame seeds for topping (I use both white and black)
rice or rice noodles

Optional:

corn starch for thickening (I actually rarely do this, but it is used as shown in photo)
toasted cashews (chopped for topping)

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients down to the kale (chicken, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, mirin, honey, vinegar, and peaches) and let marinate for at least 30 minutes (up to overnight). The longer you marinate, the more the peaches will break down. If you prefer to see and feel the peaches rather than simply tasting the flavor, hold them out of the mix until the last minutes of cooking.

2. Start rice (assuming you are using a type that takes at least 20 minutes). Pour a small amount of oil into wok or pan and heat to medium high. Add meat mixture and stir-fry until it is cooked over the surface of the chicken. Remove and set aside. Add more oil to pan and stir-fry kale. I often add a little water and a lid and let my kale steam a little to help soften it. If you are using other vegetables, stir-fry them as well. When they are nearly ready, add back in the meat mixture.

3. If you prefer a thickened sauce to one that is more brothy, stir in a mixture of about a half cup of water combined with a tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir constantly. Spoon over rice or noodles and top with sesame seeds and/or toasted cashews.

While the photo shows this dish over white rice, we also use brown rice, brown rice noodles, pad Thai noodles, and Maifun noodles. Try it over your favorite grain choice. Hopefully, this peachy dinner will bring smiles to your taste buds and companions.

PeachGingerChicken

Photos by Blythe Pelham

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Drying Produce: Simple and Easy

peppers

Dried hot peppers

Because I love doing things as simply as possible, drying is probably my favorite way of preserving food. It’s easy, efficient and low-cost, especially if you do sun-drying. Although many people love their food dehydrators and find them very convenient, drying can be also done in a regular kitchen oven.

Herbs are one of the easiest things to dry. Simply cut a good-sized bunch, wash it thoroughly, tie by the stems and hang to dry – outside if the weather is sunny, inside if you have frequent rains or live in a very humid climate. In a few days, depending on the weather and humidity level, you should have a bunch of perfectly dry herbs ready to be stored in a tightly sealed glass jar or plastic bag. You can keep them as leaves for tea or crush them into powder for seasoning.

This year we had a bumper crop of hot peppers, which aren’t the kind of vegetable you use in large quantities, so I dried some of the excess. To dry a batch of hot peppers, first cut them lengthwise and remove the seeds. Careful - wear gloves while handling, because those little capsicums can be treacherous. Place the peppers on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper.

If drying outside, cover the cookie sheet with metal wire, cloth mesh or anything else that will keep birds and insects away but still let sunlight get to the peppers. Place in direct sunlight and turn peppers over every few hours. This process may take several days, depending on the amount of light, degree of heat and humidity.

For oven-drying, place the cookie sheet with the peppers in the oven and turn it on a very low heat. Remember, you don't want them to be roasted - you just want all the moisture to evaporate. Keep the peppers in the oven, turning from time to time, until they are quite dry and brittle.

At this point, your dry pepper slices can be stored in a tightly sealed jar, where they will keep for a long time. You can also pulverize them in a food processor and make your own hot pepper powder, which you can likewise store in a jar. This powder can be used for seasoning various dishes as is, or made into hot paste or sauce with some salt, fresh or dry herbs and olive oil.

The same principle can be applied for drying tomatoes – slice them if they are big, or dry them whole if they are cherries - and many other crops.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Amazon.com Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blogRead all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Food Trends 2017: Farmers, Foodies and Producers of Food Products, Part 1

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As farmers, cottage food operators and on-farm food service entrepreneurs, we’re always on the watch for the latest emerging trends, whether they delve into changing culinary preferences, ingredients, food products or a new-fangled way of eating or drinking something.

At the nation’s largest, annual foodservice trade show, the NRA Show, hosted by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) in Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center, you’ll get a taste of America’s palate at the moment.  Some years it’s a very clear trend, like at the NRA Show two years ago and the gluten-free craze. Exhibitors tried to outdo competition with better tasting pizza crusts, muffin mixes, and cookies. They succeeded! Serving delicious gluten-free breakfasts at Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm is now a breeze, particularly with the various one-to-one flour substitutes like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour and Deya’s Gluten-free Cake Flour.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot? survey of professional chefs, hyper-local sourcing, that includes restaurant gardens and onsite beer brewing, plus locally sourced produce, meats and seafood are among the top trends. This bids well for homesteaders near upscale urban centers who are looking to sell what they raise.

The following trends and innovations surfaced as we wandered the aisles of the NRA Show in 2017:

Exotic goes mainstream while cutting back on the sugar. Processed sugar may be on its way out, but that doesn’t mean we Americans have lost our sweet tooth.  Enter more traditional tropical fruits and vegetables from Latin America that satisfy those cravings in a healthy fashion.

“Plantains are naturally sweet and a restaurant alternative to sweet and white potatoes,” shares Valeria Lytton with MIC Food, a Miami-based distributor of frozen, value-added tropical products.  “Plantains have the same taste profile as sugar but it all comes naturally from the fruit.”

Many of MIC Food’s products may soon find their way into school cafeterias as options for those seeking less sugar. We also loved their yucca fries and boniato, a less sweet version of a sweet potato, popular on the Caribbean islands. For farmers willing to try something tropical in your hoop houses or growing fields down south, new niche crops like yucca might be worth exploring.

 nrashow-coffee_3301

Going to the Source for Ingredients

Just about everyone has had a latte or mocha in America. According to the Specialty Coffee Association, one in three adults drank a cup of specialty coffee yesterday, up from 25-percent just five years ago. For some, the days of “plain” drip coffee have been usurped by espresso drinks and specialty coffees. This spectacular growth in coffee consumption coincides with the thirst for real food.

Lavazza coffee sets the bar for “point of origin” 100-percent Arabica coffees, savored without the need for sugar or milk due to its quality. According to research presented by Tradecraft, 74-percent of the Millennials identify themselves as “authentic” and seek experiences that reinforce that authenticity.

“If something is good, it should be drunk by itself, in its natural essence, to taste the flavor of it,” explains Salvatore Foto of Lavazza, an Italian coffee company.  “We source our coffee from single origin sources and do not over roast the coffee, which would bring out too much acidity.” 

Lavazza’s Kafa coffee originates from the original coffee plant and takes its name from a small region in Ethiopia, where this coffee grows naturally and is hand-harvested.  Kafa illustrates the trend of authentic products derived from the source with a “reserve” appeal as it is only available in limited amounts as the coffee cherries are picked by hand, one by one. Lavazza also showcased their Tierra Origins coffee, produced in collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance with the goal of improving the social and environmental conditions and production techniques of a number of coffee-growing communities in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Vietnam, Brazil, India, Peru, Honduras and Colombia.

nrashow-inductionCook_3347 

Induction Cooking Without the Need for all New Pans

Cooking by induction is among the most energy efficient ways to cook, since heat is transferred by magnetic induction rather than the more energy wasteful thermal conduction. The induction cooktops cook faster and lose less heat. However, induction cooktops are more expensive than the more common gas or electric ranges, and they require special pots and pans design specifically for their use.

Thanks to Panasonic’s new Met-All Induction Cooktop Range for the food service industry, this is no longer the case. Their induction cooktop is compatible with any metal cookware, including copper, stainless steel, iron and aluminum, earning it a 2017 Kitchen Innovations Award from the National Restaurant Association. Now, we just need a consumer version and we’re ready to go for our farmstay B&B breakfasts and cottage food products!

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband and photographer, John D. Ivanko, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by the wind and sun. Both are regular speakers at the Mother Earth News Fairs. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to Mother Earth News, most recently, 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son Liam, millions of ladybugs and a 10 kW Bergey wind turbine. Read all of Lisa's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.