What’s Hot in Produce for 2012

I’ve already written about lots of food trends for 2012, here’s a recap of some of those posts in case you’ve missed:

2012 Hot Restaurant Trends
2012 Food Trends:  What’s Hot, What’s Not
Chefs Predict Top Menu Trends in 2012
Top 10 Restaurant Trends for 2012

Now let’s look at produce — the trends in fruits and vegetables that were identified by the National Restaurant Association’s survey of American Culinary Federation members.  Here are the hot 27 produce trends identified by the 1,800 chefs:


1. Locally grown produce
2. Organic produce

I’m not surprised that local produce is ahead of organic; several consumer studies reveal that locally grown is a more important attribute than buying organic.  In fact, locally sourced meats and seafood, locally grown produce and hyper-local sourcing (restaurant gardens), were among the top overall trends in the What’s Hot in 2012 survey.

3. Superfruits (acai, goji berry, mangosteen)
4. Exotic fruits (rambutan, dragon fruit, paw paw, guava)

I’m wondering if the superfruits trend will be over in 2013.  Let’s think of all fruits as super, and begin to enjoy a variety of  fruits more often.  I do like the idea of more exotic fruits, as long as you’re getting the real deal, and not just a juice drink or a tiny amount of extract inside of a “nutrition bar,”  smoothie or other product.

5. Heirloom apples
6. Heirloom beans

heirloom beans

Pork loin, heirloom beans, bacon and broccoli rabe by nicknamemiket on flickr

Heirloom is a broad trend, that transcends fruits and vegetables, as well as animal breeds.  Heirloom tomatoes (trend 11) may have been the first to break through, but now the heirloom description is more widely used (yet, is there some “heirloom washing” going on?).  Nonetheless, I’m especially enjoying heirloom beans.

7. Specialty potatoes (purple, fingerling, Baby Dutch Yellow)
8. Micro-vegetables, micro-greens
9. Hybrid fruits/vegetables (plumcot, grapple, broccoflower)

grappleGrapple image courtesy of klar on flickr

Grapple is one example of the hybrid trend.  It’s a cross between an apple and a grape.  Have you tried it?  I actually haven’t yet, but curious.

10. Fresh herbs
11. Heirloom tomatoes
12. Dark/bitter greens (collards, kale, beet tops)

kale pasta - flavorveganKale pasta image courtesy of flavorvegan on flickr

There’s been lots of love for bitter greens, especially kale, which has become the big breakout star on Pinterest.  It’s great in salads, but also an ingredient in pasta, soups, stews, and casseroles.

13. Root vegetables (parsnip, turnip, rutabaga)
14. Fresh beans, peas (fava, sweet, snow)
15. Asian mushrooms (shiitake, straw, enokitake, cloud ear fungus)
16. Hot peppers (habanero, chipotle, jalapeno)
17. Pomegranates
18. Fennel

fennellPersimmon Fennel Salad with Pistachios and Kiwi by Vegan Feast Catering on flickr

19. Passion fruit
20. Edamame/soy beans
21. Avocados
22. Beets

beet ravioliRaw Saffron Pickled Golden Beet Ravioli by Sweeteats on flickr

Beets are no longer just featured in salads (especially the classic combination with goat cheese).  Now raw beets seem to be all the rage, including raw beet ravioli.

23. Tomatillos
24. Radish/daikon
radish rollRadish Roll with thin daikon wrap by ulterior epicure on flickr

25. Olives
26. Pears
27. Cauliflower

What vegetable or fruit would you add to the list?

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