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Adlen Robinson: Some food trends from 2020 worth keeping

We all know what a weird year 2020 was — a year filled with fear, uncertainty, and so many unanswered questions. 

Where food was involved, I think it’s safe to say most people spent a lot more time in the kitchen cooking and eating at home. 

Adlen Robinson
- photo by Adlen Robinson
So, what were the notable food trends in 2020 and what can we expect in 2021?

Sustainable farming and foods. You can’t really talk to a millennial without hearing the word sustainable. People everywhere are interested in supporting foods that are grown and prepared in a way that don’t hurt and even help the environment.

Unusual flours. Flours such as teff or cauliflower flour are beginning to show up in larger grocery stores. Also, you can find pastas of all sorts made from various vegetables — this is great news for those with gluten sensitivities.

Ready-made snack foods made healthy. This is a trend I love. You can find pre-made snacks like boiled eggs, fresh cut vegetables and fruits along with various dips. You can even get individual servings of bone broths and soups. I love this trend because it used to be that snack foods were highly processed and came in a box or a bag — real food is actually good for you.

Plant- and meat-based blends. Instead of a regular hamburger, for example, you will see a burger made with 75% meat and 25% vegetables, like mushrooms.

Alternatives to sugar. I am not talking about Stevia, but about different fruits and vegetables used to turn into sweeteners. Monk fruit, pomegranates and sweet potato are turned into glazes, syrups and sauces.

Puffed and popped snacks. There are more and more puffed snacks, many of which are made from things such as chickpeas or other food ingredients.

Breakfast for all. More and more places that specialize in breakfast and brunch are popping up everywhere. This trend is sure to continue.

Pickled and fermented foods. These are both delicious and healthy — try your hand at making these at home — fermented pickles and sauerkraut are terrific places to start.

Healthier cocktails. Drinks made with fresh herbs, real fruits and vegetables and even kombucha. Mocktails continue to be trending as well.

Ghost restaurants are popping up, especially in big cities. These are restaurants that are open only for take-out. Another trend is restaurants providing you with a meal that you pick up, take home and cook yourself.

Another food trend is unusual spices and I would add the ease of finding them. Spices such as Sumac, Za’atar, and Piri Piri are appearing in recipes more and more. Many grocery stores are beginning to carry these and other popular spice blends — and of course you can always order online.

As you might expect in light of the pandemic, foods that support a healthy immune system are definitely being touted. 

The importance of eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and quality protein is always a good trend to follow. 

Since I wrote a book about the importance of eating organically, this is a trend that makes me super happy. I feel like so many people have opened their eyes to how critical it is to invest in ourselves and our health.

One last interesting food fact. If you had to name the one food that tops the favorite food list for Americans, what would you guess? My guess was pizza, but while that is toward the top of the list, the answer surprised me. 

It turns out Americans chose cheeseburgers as their No. 1 favorite food. While cheeseburgers might not be the healthiest of foods, every now and then, a burger just hits the spot. 

Adlen Robinson is an award winning columnist and author of “Organic Food and Kitchen Matters.” You can email her at