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What’s hot in 2024 – top five food trends 

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It’s easy to make predictions but harder to know what will eventuate. We’d all be millionaires otherwise. Food is no different. Our choices are affected by so many variables, including climate, budget and personal preferences.  

But there are food trends that are likely to earn their place at even more tables this year, for both economic and more altruistic reasons, as well as a cheeky little bit on the side.

Green revolution

While we recommend ramping up the amount of green vegetables you eat, this is about making greener – or more sustainable – choices. With more of us aware of the need to tread lighter on the planet, we are paying closer attention to what, where and how we buy our food. It may mean putting in a compost at home, making proactive purchases such as buying sustainable seafood from producers like Great Southern Seafoods, or organic meat from Organic & Biodynamic Meats WA. Or perhaps you’ll embrace a plant-based diet. It might be planning your meals around what it’s in season and ordering produce through Dirty Clean Food or the Organic Collective so that you only buy what you’ll use. Or learning how to cook from root to leaf to help reduce the amount of food you throw away. We’ll all be looking to reduce our impact on our fragile home.

Comfort food

Everyone’s talking about the cost-of-living crisis (or cozzie livs, as it’s been dubbed). As budgets tighten, we’ll increasingly return to old favourites – comfort food such as stews and casseroles that use cheaper cuts of meat. It’s a great way to keep costs down without losing nutrition or flavour. Bulk up a stew or casserole with your favourite vegies and serve the next day over pasta, rice, mashed potato or sweet potato, even roasted pumpkin or eggplant.  Adding legumes to soups and curries will also amp up the nutritional value as well as help dinner go further. These are generally dishes that taste even better the next day anyway and many can be frozen for a quick midweek meal the following week, so you save time as well as money. Buy in bulk and watch your money go even further.

Local connections

While we may not have a heap of extra money to spare, when we do treat ourselves we are more likely to choose something that is local made by people who really care about what they do. It’s not only about eating quality ingredients, such as artisan cheese and freshly baked sourdough, but about connection. One of the lessons of the pandemic was the importance of food security. We want to know who is making what we eat and that what we’re spending helps local producers to flourish so that they can continue to feed us fresh and delicious food well into the future. It’s going to keep farmers markets and local providores front and centre as we seek conversations with the people behind our produce. This extends to local food tours with Matters of Taste, passionate foodies who love nothing more than introducing you to producers and providores (and you get to eat lots of great food, too).

Bush beauties

We may have been slow to discover what Aboriginal Australians have known for centuries but we’re going to make up for lost time. Expect to see an uptake in the number of chefs using indigenous ingredients on their menus, from the fabulous finger lime to lemon myrtle and wattleseed. As home cooks, we’re also going to embrace these uniquely Australian flavours, thanks to wider availability through innovative growers such as Tucker Bush. Starting with just three bush food species, they now grow more than 60 varieties and produce a range of herbs. Native ingredients can be used in sweet and savoury dishes. Think finger lime tart or sponge cake, banana bread with lemon myrtle, rock lobster with saltbush butter. Once you get a taste for them, you’ll wonder what took so long.

Side show

Condiments are kings (and queens) this year. Whether you’re throwing a barbeque, cooking a curry, or eating a cheese platter, anything really, don’t forget those little extras. A well-chosen sauce, relish, paste, chutney, mustard or vinegar can take a dish to the next level. Just leave them in the jar they came in or pop in a little bowl for everyone to add as little or as much as they desire. If you like things spicy, check out the range from Bluey Zarzov’s Hotsauce or The Devil’s Tears. Need a chutney to serve with curry or give your sandwich a bit of zing? See Turban Chopsticks. Half the fun is discovering the marvellous little extras in our backyard.