"According to chef experts, 2017 will see a significant shift in the restaurant industry — a shift away from the celebrity culture to more of a community focus," Bambi Majumdar says. "And eating locally produced foods, known as "locavore," will be one of the biggest food trends this year."
The concept of clean eating, super-grains and more greens has slowly made its way into the kitchens of all top chefs who have been experimenting and pushing the boundaries of traditional cuisine. This year, most of them seem to be adding "going locavore" to their goals.
For chefs like Massimo Bottura, these are more than trends, they are going to be the "attitude" or a way of life henceforth. Community before individual may be a radical departure from the past, but in the wave of an underlying solidarity that people feel with each other today, social responsibility is definitely in the cards in 2017.
This trend also has hit home with many Americans. The most recent AudienceSCAN study found 21.3% of U.S. adults are willing to pay more for locally sourced meat, seafood or produce at a grocery store or restaurant.
The locavore trend will put intense focus on the environment and impact of food on the planet. Food forecasts from the world's top chefs show increased focus on local produce, clean eating and attempts to make food accessible for more people.
With social responsibility and food sustainability becoming key buzzwords for 2017, there is a distinct shift toward newer farming ideas as well. Demand for diversity and local flavor will see more farmers and producers be more creative and adventurous and grow new foods. Changes in farming habits — like naturally nurtured cattle instead of formula-fed ones — will also lead to healthier and tastier meats.
Restaurateurs can appeal to Locavores through their email subscriber lists. Locavores will want to read all about their sustainability and local efforts. The most recent AudienceSCAN survey revealed 31% of Locavores took action after checking their inboxes for emailed ads or newsletters.
As more diners seek out local produce, chefs will be focusing on originality to meet these demands. As chef Virgilio Martinez of Peru's Central Restaurant pointed out, it will be up to the chefs to create unique dishes that will help diners taste the culture and cuisine of a place in one single bite. The local traditions and intrinsic flavors are going to be essential in 2017 food trends.
The local and farm-to-table approach will also partner with home-cooked-style simple meals. Boring dinners with expensive price tags will give way to comfort food, and local street foods will see makeovers in classic Michelin starred kitchens. Locavore, therefore, will not just be the use local ingredients, but also offering genuine warmth and hospitality for diners when they go out for a meal.
Newspaper (print, online, mobile or tablet) advertising can convey these traits for restaurants. According to the latest AudienceSCAN research, 30.5% of Locavores took action after reading local paper ads in the past month.
It’s not just the celebrity chefs who are claiming the locavore tag. North Carolina nonprofit Sustainable Sandhills has made quite a name for itself with its monthly locavore dinners. The classic farm-to-fork style dinners are geared toward authentic taste and in supporting local sources of food.
Among the many upcoming events, notable is the new Portland Food Festival, scheduled for this summer in Maine. The day-long festival will be all about celebrating local food. Proponents of the farm-to-table approach will conduct workshops that will attract not just foodies but also chefs, farmers, food entrepreneurs and producers, and all others intrinsically linked to the locavore landscape.