Who is cooking in tomorrow’s kitchens, and what are their secret ingredients? Organic, local foods raised and packaged with thought to social and environmental responsibility will get the nod from future chefs.
Sharing the Apron
Poke around in a stranger’s kitchen or a few minutes and you can form some fairly accurate assumptions about them. For instance, the presence of high tech, chef-quality gadgets that together make up a kitchen of superior functionality reveals some very interesting clues about the people most frequently in that kitchen.
As interesting as what’s cooking in the kitchens of tomorrow will be who is doing the cooking. Although many studies still conclude the woman of the home is responsible for the bulk of the grocery shopping and food preparation, it turns out usually men who adopt cooking as a hobby are most likely to pay a premium for high-end professional-style cooking gadgets.
Although the motivation behind this behaviour is still being studied, some experts believe that because men are accustomed to investing in expensive tools for their workshops, they are less apt to have “sticker shock” when they buy cookware and cooking gadgets. So, if there is a lot of professional equipment in a home kitchen, it’s likely there is a man making pesto or challah bread on the weekends.
Checking out the gadgets in the kitchen can provide insight into the age of its users, too. Besides transforming the home cooking experience into a more authentic, restaurant-inspired experience, a burgeoning trend in kitchen gadget design is to make tools easier for people to use. Hand tools with ergonomic grips and re-thought appliances such as ovens with large windows to improve visibility allow people with restricted mobility and reduced strength to continue to enjoy cooking well into their twilight years.
Global and Local Ingredient Influences
While tools have been adapted to keep up with our needs and cravings for quality, eating trends have been evolving and developing in interesting ways, too. Among the many, many trends that are flowing and ebbing in the Canadian consumer landscape, one of the most interesting (and encouraging) is the maturation of the organic movement in Canada. No longer just for the “granola” set, a peek inside Canadian pantries reveals more people are choosing organic foods as staples. Many grocers now integrate organic produce and food products into their mainstream offering. Related to this success story is the growing consumer consciousness that the foods we eat need to be chosen with social and ecological responsibility.
From the foie gras ban in Chicago to increased awareness about the folly of eating folkloreinspired but environmentally irresponsible delicacies such as shark fin soup, chefs, retailers and consumers are becoming increasingly careful of how their food choices affect the well being of other creatures. Similarly, more emphasis on forgotten breeds of vegetables and meats such as Berkshire pork reveals consumers are considering the source of their foods and are willing to pay a pre- mium for “the real thing” versus getting a bargain for foods raised irresponsibly or shipped long distances from the source. There is a push to develop local economies and connect farmers and urban consumers in an effort to reduce “food miles” or the distance your food travels. Related to these issues of ethics and food is the growing number of fair trade foods in consumers’ pantries. Luxury imported foods such as coffee, tea and chocolate are all items being successfully marketed at higher prices by retailers who guarantee the people in the developing world who produced these items were compensated fairly.
All Wrapped Up & Now here To Go
Beyond our developing concern about food ethics, Canadians show a ballooning concern about the detrimental effects plastic and other man-made packaging materials have on the environment. The small town of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba has taken the bold step to ban the use of plastic shopping bags to reduce landfill volumes. Further afield but expected to be introduced here, England’s Sainsbury grocery chain now offers 500 products wrapped in a new style cling film wrap that degrades quickly in the composter. On the horizon is packaging made of edible films (similar to what is now used to make breath fresheners and kid’s medicine). Once perfected, this innovative wrapping system will cut down on waste because people will eat the food wrap, too.
Ingredients for Good Health
Canadians are embracing food as not just enjoyable or necessary for energy, but as a prescription for good health. In fact, many consumers now choose some foods in an effort to avoid the use of patented medicines. For food marketers, this trend is a huge boon. Ads and public relations campaigns now often focus on diminishing the guilt of indulgences by highlighting the beauty-enhancing and anti-aging properties contained in some of our favorite foods. For example, chocolate makers are leveraging our vanity to sell sweet indulgences. Make-up lines are incorporating food ingredients, including chocolate, that are said to benefit the skin. Meanwhile, new lines of chocolate bars promise to improve muscle tone and boost energy. Health food indeed!
What all of the trends indicate is that even as our society transforms the kitchen from a secluded work room into a gathering place where all kinds of activities in addition to cooking occur, our food and home appliance choices remain very personal and reflect our attitudes about ourselves and the world around us.
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