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Report Says Demand for Sustainably Sourced Foods on the Rise

Gather restaurant, in Berkeley, CA, has built its success on the sourcing of local, sustainably sourced ingredients. | Image credit: Gather

Growing consumer awareness of the vulnerable state of the global environment and food supply, along with increased education about ecologically sound foods, will lead to a long-term increase in environmentally conscious eating, according to a new report from the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) Innovation and Packaged Facts.

The “Eco-Eating Culinary Trend Mapping Report" says this eco-eating takes many forms, typically starting with organic dairy and produce and moving on to plant-based proteins. While in the past it may have been sufficient to stop there and call it an eco-progressive meal plan, today progressive diners and food shoppers are beginning to think about their eco-eating footprints and are looking for sustainable choices in all sorts of new places.

The report says that natural grocery stores have long supported eco-eating, which allows consumers to shop knowing that their values are reflected on the shelves and that they can trust that the meat, fish, dairy, produce and packaged products are made in accordance with a certain set of ecological and sustainable standards. However, consumers are now looking farther afield, to restaurants, hotels and retail stores of all kinds for more eco-friendly food choices.

The sustainability trends explored in the report are moving closer to the mainstream thanks to creative entrepreneurs, progressive chefs and consumers on a mission. These include:

Edible Packaging — Forward-leaning entrepreneurs are already launching edible wrappers to help reduce the cost and impact of food packaging, the report says. Fruit, ice cream, yogurt and even sandwiches will soon be available wrapped in edible packaging.

Protein-Packed Insects — The buzz is growing around tapping into the protein insects such as crickets, which are already an accepted part of many global cuisines, can readily provide a hungry planet.

Restaurant Gardens & Hotel Beehives — Fine dining chefs are joining hotel chains to plant rooftop gardens and raise honeybees to create ultra-local food supplies and inspire seasonal menus.

New Sustainable Seafood Choices — Chefs, restaurateurs and a number of major grocery retailers are working with seafood certification boards to obtain sustainably raised seafood, whether from the ocean or a fish farm, and looking for new types of fish for use in culinary dishes to help decrease overfishing of more popular varieties.

Grass-Fed Beef — The report says that several chain restaurants are leading the industry by securing grass-fed beef supplies for tacos, burgers and sandwiches, showing other companies that where there is a demand, a supply can rise to fulfill it. With the cost of beef rising today, those for grass-fed have become much more competitive.

Meatless Family Meal — Campaigns such as Meatless Monday have had a significant impact on foodservice institutions as well as on household habits, according to the report. Many home cooks are turning to meatless casseroles, one-pot meals, stews, pastas and bean-based dishes to feed their families in healthful and sustainable ways.

Today’s Tofu — Interest in non-animal protein also has fueled a growing trend for tofu, long a health food staple but now often seen as an authentic element of Asian cuisine, as well as a flavorful base for meals of all kinds.

In keeping with this trend, several startups in New York — Good Eggs, Farmigo and Urbavour — are working to bring about a more sustainable food system, with an emphasis on increasing the availability of local, nutritious, sustainable food.

Mike Hower is Marketing Communications Manager at Carbon Lighthouse. With a background on both sides of the communications podium — as a journalist and strategic communicator — he is committed to helping organizations address climate change through sustainability innovation. Previously,… [Read more about Mike Hower]

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