2017 Food Trends: REAL FOOD

2017 Food Trends: REAL FOOD

REAL FOOD, Made from Scratch, Using Wholesome Ingredients is Gonna Be HOT This Year!

This is the time when food writers make their best guesses about what will be the hottest, coldest, freshest, and tastiest food trends coming down the pike in the coming year. It’s fun to speculate right along with them, so try this one on for size!

REAL FOOD will make a comeback on school lunch trays in 2017!

The cool thing I noticed when I looked at this huge list of food trends from all over the internet is that it is filled with so many REAL FOODS! Whole foods, foods prepared from scratch. Foods that you won’t find in a brown box that simply requires reheating (well, OK…Tater Tots is on the list, but let’s ignore that one for the purpose of this article!).

If you’ve followed any of my recent articles, you will likely conclude that I am an advocate for improving the foods we serve to our nation’s children via the USDA Child Nutrition programs. My hope is to stir the pot a bit and generate some corporate dissatisfaction with the current state of school food service. The goal is to cast a vision for what a healthy, whole-foods approach to school food service could look like then harness the dissatisfaction with what currently exists to overcome resistance to making positive change. You may have seen this formula before (I don’t take credit for the formula, see this wikipedia entry for more info):

Three factors must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place. These factors are:

D = Dissatisfaction: Get disgusted about the state of school food service! Watch this video, not so much for the content, although it is a shame what people think about school food. Simply cast your eyes upon the number of hits this piece of negative media about school food is receiving. People love to watch negative media about school food! Our industry is the brunt of so many jokes. We are the laughing stock of the food service industry. Except, it isn’t funny. Do you deserve this reputation?

V = Vision of what is possible: Build your program on these four pillars for success:

  1. Whole Foods
  2. Scratch Cooking
  3. Farm to School
  4. Consistent Marketing

F = First: Identify the first concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision.

There are innumerable ways to get started. Here are just four first steps to prime the pump and get the creative juices flowing:

  • Stop serving highly processed crap (nuggets, pockets, burritos, corn dogs, the list goes on) and replace it. Just pick one to start!
  • Start serving something you make from scratch. It really isn’t too hard! There are many scratch and fast-scratch menu items you can have a go at, and you can even utilize your commodity foods!
  • Start buying local foods for your program! Call a farmer! I promise they will love the idea of the getting the food they grow on your menu! Don’t know how to get started? Here is a great resource!
  • Start using salad bars/food bars/fresh fruit and veggie bars to give your kids as many self-serve, easy-to-prepare fresh, whole food choices as possible!

So now, lets resolve the formula. If the product of these three factors DxVxF is greater than R = Resistance then change is possible! Because D, V, and F are multiplied, if any one factor is absent (zero) or low, then the product will be zero or low and therefore not capable of overcoming the resistance.

You will likely meet some student and staff resistance when making these improvements but if you stick with it, the kids will come around and love the new, fresh food you start serving. Your staff will be proud to be doing the right thing and will enjoy learning some new technical skills!

Do some strategic thinking. Use your influence and create a compelling vision. Talk with your staff, students, and parents. There are champions to help you, right in your district. Just ask. Recognize and accept the dissatisfaction that exists, then leverage it for positive change.

Lets make 2017 the year of positive change in child nutrition! Share this with your colleagues. Get ticked off about the state of our industry and help make me right about my food trend prediction for 2017!

REAL FOOD, Made from Scratch, Using Wholesome Ingredients is Gonna Be HOT in 2017! 

Harness the power of dissatisfaction! Join forces! Start Anywhere! Take Action!