8 Food Fads: A Look 2013's Top Trends

It seems like only yesterday we were witnessing the rise of quinoa and coconut water. But those food trends have to be passé by now, no? When I lived in north Brooklyn I was surrounded by chefs, urban farmers and small-scale food manufacturers, and I picked up on food fads via osmosis. Later I worked for a women's health blog and had to pay attention to diet trends and trendy foods. I was heavily involved with Pinterest. But lately, while I haven't been paying that much attention, my hometown grocery store has begun stocking probiotic water. What is happening here? Join me as I try to decipher recent and ongoing 2013 food trends.

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

High-End Vegan

Forbes recently named its top 10 food trends of 2013, and number one on the list was “high-end vegan.” As more people embrace a partially meatless diet, high-end vegan food has become a type of cuisine to many, like Thai food or Mexican. “The new wave of veganism is more about health than animal welfare,” Mike Thelin, co-founder of Feast Portland, told Forbes.

Rainbow chard

According to a website called Nosh On It, kale is so NOT HOT. They don’t offer anything in the way of evidence, so in its place I’ll tell you that I did have lunch with my 62-year-old uncle last week where he told me he was so over kale. For real. In place of kale, Nosh On It suggests the hotter option is rainbow chard. “With a slightly bitter flavor similar to kale but a little more nutty, Chard is fantastic in dishes with bacon or chorizo or simply sautéed with garlic and olive oil,” it notes. Chard “looks beautiful, tastes fantastic and is just awesome for your health.”

Image: Fotolia


In January, the website Organic Authority proclaimed seaweed one of 2013’s must-eat food trends. “Look for seaweed to appear in breads, flavored salts, crackers, cereals, butter, pasta dishes, snacks, soups and on side dishes like French fries,” it said. At my last job, a woman who sat next to me ate straight-up plain, nori sheets, and I always felt a little bit seaweed-shamed by her when comparing my own wasabi-coated and roasted seaweed snacks. But those I can vouch for, and they’re delicious. Also really good for you.


I really don’t want to talk about cronuts, but it would be negligent to write about 2013 food fads without them. The most notorious American snack monstrosity of the year, this croissant/donut hybrid recently made its sitcom debut in an episode of 2 Broke Girls .


Apparently, avocado is having a moment, and it’s being driven by Millennials. At the 2013 MUFSO (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators) conference in September, keynote speaker Nancy Kruse said health-conscious members of Gen Y are encouraging the rise of whole grains, green tea, high-protein foods and avocados. Those are all pretty awesome things, so good for us. Apparently, we also respond better to restaurant menus that advertise fresh ingredients rather than labels like low-calorie, low-fat or low-sodium.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Fancy Juice

In New York City, juices that cost upwards of $7 per bottle aren’t uncommon. Fresh, raw juice is The Thing (and I’ll admit, I went through a nasty raw turmeric juice habit this past spring). New York magazine noted recently that New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco are “all fully in the grip of the miraculous, completely life-changing, wow-wow-wow power of juice, a new emblem of modern urban virtue, self-control, and simplicity,” which just about sums that up.

Image: Turmeric Alive


OK, pointing out that bacon is a food trend generally means you’re either rather lazy or haven’t been eating or reading for, like, five to seven years. If anything, the bacon-all-the-things trend is dying out (please please please). But an analysis of Food Network data by Wired was released earlier this month, and it actually ran some calculations about bacon. According to Wired, recipes or foods that included the word bacon were consistently rated higher than those that did not. And this has been an onward and upward trend from 2007 through 2013.

Probiotic Beverages

Probiotics are in everything from chocolate to trail mix these days. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. These good bacteria are great immune boosters and promote health in myriad other ways. Along with the general rise of probiotics comes a surge for all sorts of probiotic beverages. Kombucha is a fermented (and slightly alcoholic) fermented tea. Kefir is a cultured milk product with live probiotic cultures, something like yogurt but mostly lactose-free. And Kevita is a brand name for a type of probiotic carbonated water.

Image: Synergy Drinks