Take one look at Instagram and you’ll see that we’ve all become rather obsessed with food. New data from Google indicates that not only are we voracious consumers of all kinds of edible delights, but that we’re more conscious than ever about the health benefits of what we’re eating. Google’s latest Food Trends Report reveals that “there is growing consumer interest in the health-enhancing role of specific foods, or what experts call ‘functional foods’”. The most searched for ‘health foods’? Think turmeric, apple cider vinegar, avocado oil, bitter melon, and kefir. Brand new entrants to search this year included bone broth, while long-time staple oatmeal saw its popularity kick into gear, with the search term “is oatmeal healthy” increasing a whopping 87% over last year. In addition to generally healthy foods, we’re also keen to know what to eat to combat particular ailments or issues, such as acid reflux or low energy levels, and once we know what we should be eating, we want to know how to eat it. Can we chuck in in a smoothie? Pop it on some toast? Sprinkle it on soup? Fortunately there are YouTube videos aplenty to help us on our healthy odysseys. Other hot food search trends Google identified include our inclination to travel through taste; popular dishes from around the world are gaining popularity in the US, with pho sitting comfortable (and unsurprisingly) in the number one spot. We’ve also fallen for pork – and not just bacon, people! – experimenting with pork, particularly pork shoulder, is a noticeable trend. We were intrigued to see ‘bite-sized snacks’ as the fourth biggest food search trend, but when we dug a little deeper and found that cheese curds made the cut, it all made sense. Those wonderful little nuggets of deliciousness are an ideal meal, er, snack. And finally, word on the street is that the humble pasta is making a comeback, which is slightly confusing, because we didn’t realize pasta had gone anywhere in the first place. In light of Google’s report (and our love of food trends), we thought we’d take a look at which of the trendy foods can be found locally in Ontario, so you can take your food nerdiness to a whole new level. Food with function: bone broth and bitter melon By far one of the biggest trending search terms this year is bone broth, a long, long simmered broth that goes beyond your typical broth or stock, taking at least 24 hours to achieve its destiny. It’s pretty simple to make, just head down to your local butcher (if you’re in Toronto, we recommend Bespoke Butchers or Sanagan’s Meat Locker), grab some bones, and get simmering! Also masquerading as a bitter gourd, bitter squash, or balsam-pear, bitter melons are commonly found in Asian cooking, and as a result of demand, have begun to be grown right here in Ontario! It’s thought to be a medicinal food with several (not-quite-proven) superpowers. You can find bitter melon throughout Ontario’s greenbelt at on-farm markets and farmers’ markets that sell locally grown produce. Travelling through taste: tostadas and queso fresco In our humble opinion, the omnipresence of global flavours in Ontario is something to get excited about. Although many of us Ontarians can find global flavours where we live, we’re big advocates of adding a bit of adventure into every bite, which is why we recommend you head up to Casero’s Kitchen Table and Taco Bus (!!!) in Owen Sound for some of the most-searched global flavours: tostadas and tacos with queso fresco. You won’t regret it. Experimenting with pork: pork shoulder and roast pork loin In case you missed it, Ontario pork is pretty great, and while bacon is still very much a thing (will it ever not be?), it appears as though people are getting the message that there’s more deliciousness in a pig than just bacon. Pork shoulder topped the list of porky inquiries, with people wanting to learn how to make it in their slow cookers and ovens and on their BBQs. Unsurprisingly, it was most searched on the weekend, prompting Google to surmise that Americans are using pork in particular to “[turn] meals into a full weekend experience that they can do on their own from the comfort of home”. Yeah, we’d have to say we agree. Want an OCTA Taste Tested recipe? Try the Landman Spicy Roast Pork Loin with pork sourced from Sanagan’s Meat Locker, Bespoke Butchers, or your local Ontario pork butcher. Bite-sized snacks: cheese curds and bean mug cake But of course the world has finally figured out that cheese curds are one of the best snacks around, and while mug cake tops the list of most-searched bite-sized snacks (and why wouldn’t it?), cheese curds are holding their own at number two. For a bag of those little squeaky delights, head to Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese on Oxford County’s Cheese Trail and snack happy! We’re also going to go out on a limb and say that beans are going to be super hot any day now, given that 2016 is the “International Year of Pulses” and that beans are pretty fierce when it comes to health benefits. Once people figure out that beans can be used to make a brilliant cake, and thus probably a mug cake, we’re pretty sure they’ll be trending. Don’t forget, you heard it here first! The pasta comeback: rigatoni, tortellini, and linguine As we said, we were surprised to see that pasta was making a comeback, as we didn’t think it had gone anywhere in the first place. Turns out that what’s really making waves is homemade pasta, “consumers are most interested in making pasta dishes at home”, as well as experimenting with new recipes, sauces, and ideas (rigatoni pie, anyone?). Homemade pasta can be intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple once you get the hang of it. Don’t fancy learning at home? Head out to a cooking class in your area and learn from the pros!
So there you have it, folks. Google’s five top food search trends and how to jump on board at home in Ontario. Happy trendy eating!