The 2012 Winter Fancy Food Show  was filled with a lot of walking, drinking, and of course, eating. There were some obvious trends we noticed that we think are going to take hold this coming year. Given what we tasted and saw, it's going to be a great year for food! Check out what trends we spotted.
Flatbreads certainly seem like they're going to be quite popular this year. These beautiful Middle Eastern flatbreads give us options besides simple tortillas for wrap-making at home.
No-Sugar-Added Fruit Products
It's not enough for a product to no longer contain high-fructose corn syrup ; the big thing now is for fruit-flavored products to not contain any added sugars, period. That goes for fruit chews, fizzy fruit juices, frozen fruit pops, and childrens' fruit snacks.
This trend makes me a little bit nervous because while I love the scent of lavender, sometimes it can be a bit harsh in foods. Luckily, everything that we tried was really subtle and actually enhanced (rather than covered up) by the lavender addition.
One thing was blatantly obvious at this year's show: tea is where it's at in 2012. We were able to sample all kinds of tea (which was really cool since it's National Tea Month) and we also found tea flavoring all kinds of things, even granola! We think it's a perfect opportunity to start hosting tea parties.
If 2011 was the year cow's milk became passé, 2012 might just be the year extra-virgin olive oil meets its match. As it turns out, just about anything can be the source of oil, from tea seeds  to shiso leaves to rice bran to coconuts.
Pickles, Pickles, Pickles
If the Good Food Awards  didn't get us excited enough about pickles (they had an entire category dedicated to them!), then the Fancy Food Show sure took care of things. We tasted all kinds of inventive pickling techniques, like okra pickled with smoked paprika, and we can't wait to see how this trend evolves.
In years past, it was a rarity to come across Jamón Ibérico at this show, but much to our surprise and delight it was everywhere this year. We think that speaks to the fact that people simply want more great cured ham from Spain, and we're A-OK with that.
Farro. Millet. Amaranth. Kamut: these grains aren't just touted for their whole-grain health benefits, they've also been around for centuries. Have you heard of these ingredients? If you haven't, get ready: they're on the verge of taking America by storm.
Tart Cherries in Everything
2012 is going to be a big year for tart cherries , since it's been reported that they can reduce risk of diabetes and cancer . We drank them in juice from concentrate, juice not from concentrate, ate them dried, saw them covered in chocolate, and spotted their juice used in frozen fruit pops. "They make a spectacular post-workout recovery snack," one vendor told us.
OK, so packaging isn't exactly a food, but it certainly was a trend in food packaging at the show. Eco-friendly spoons, tea bags made out of hemp, compostable clear containers: you name it, we saw it. Did you know that stainless steel tins are easier on the environment and better for recycling purposes than other metals? Neither did we.
If bottles at the Fancy Food Show could've talked, they would've said, "Plain ol' agua is so last year." Everywhere we turned, there was some iteration of flavored H20, whether it was tinged with herbal extracts (lavender mint and cloves cardamom cinnamon, anyone?), fruit (watermelon, blackberry) or nut oils (we savored a family recipe for sweet almond water). Surprisingly, most of them offered refreshment with natural flavors.
Overall, a Healthier Focus
If there were one resounding takeaway from this year's show, it was that Americans are shifting their food priorities, with demands for more all-natural, wholesome, healthy products. Given today's obesity epidemic, that's a movement we can get behind!