Let’s Talk Food: Lundberg’s food predictions for 2021

  • Courtesy photo Bibimbap bowl.

  • Courtesy photo Sesame salmon bowl with short-grain brown rice.

  • Courtesy photo Quinoa tater tots with spicy BBQ sauce.

Lundberg Family Farms, the leading California-based organic rice brand, recently released its top 10 predictions for food in 2021.

1. Americans will continue to stock up on shelf-stable essentials.

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As we approach the new year, many grocers are reporting continued increases in demand for pantry goods. For the best of both worlds, make sure your shelf-stable foods are also nutritious. Whole grains such as Lundberg Organic Short Grain Brown Rice have a long shelf life, which is an important consideration.

“Brown rice has a typical shelf life of 6-12 months, which can be extended another six months if you freeze it in airtight packaging, which makes brown rice great to have on hand this winter and all year round,” says Matt Slem, rice sommelier and culinary scientist at Lundberg Family Farms.

2. Americans are warming up to spicy foods.

It is said that 75% of consumers now enjoy spicy foods. Dishes such as kim chee or Korean bibimbop are popular items for the new year.

3. Regenerative agriculture rules.

There is a new label at grocery stores: Regenerative Organic Certified, or ROC, which means building rather than degrading soil by increasing organic matter, biodiversity and fertility. Many companies are participating in Rooted Community, an industry group looking to increase regenerative agriculture.

“For more than 80 years, Lundberg Family Farms has been committed to growing cover crops, which not only promote soil fertility by providing essential nutrients, like nitrogen, but also prevent soil erosion and sequester carbon,” says Ashley Koller, sustainability specialist at Lundberg Family Farms. “While we may be leaders in organic rice farming, we can’t restore a healthy ecosystem alone. We look forward to seeing others adopting eco-positive farming practices and defining regenerative agriculture within the scope of organic standards in 2021.”

4. Baking is back.

During the pandemic and shutdown for many workers, many Americans started to make sourdough starters for breadmaking and baked hoards of chocolate chip cookies. In 2021, with the Polar Vortex splitting, there will be harsh winters for many, so baking will continue since many will still be stuck at home.

5. Mindful nutrition.

According to registered dietitian Samantha Cassetty, 2021 will bring an increased focus on ditching fad diets and embracing mindly eating. Your body knows exactly what needful eating is.

“It’s important to start listening to what your body is telling you!” says Cassetty. “Whole grain carbohydrates, like brown rice and quinoa, provide essential nutrients and a slow-burning form of energy.

“Instead of shunning or fearing carbs, mindful eating can help you enjoy them. Fad diets are alluring because they promise fast and easy results. But the truth is they’re often really restrictive and hard to follow. Ditching this diet mentally is gaining a lot of momentum. Instead of eliminating your favorite foods, it’s more helpful and sustainable to learn how to include them healthfully.”

6. Immunity-boosting bites.

If 2020 taught us anything it’s that we should no longer take our health for granted. After last year, health should be at the top of our minds, as well as immunity.

“The best diet for your immune system is a plant-forward diet that’s filled with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds,” says Cassetty. “These are the foods that arm your immune system with the nutrients it needs to mount a strong defense against viruses and other invaders.”

7. Convenience is king.

Getting tired of cooking at home is happening to most of us and we all want a break once in awhile, so convenience foods are OK as a “sometimes” food.

8. American families will continue to face food insecurity.

Throughout the country, food banks are being taxed. As an example, The Food Basket-Hawaii Island’s Food Bank had served nearly 175,000 people from around the Big Island from the early days of the pandemic through December. In 2020, more than 50 million people might have experienced food insecurity, with a whooping 17 million children affected. Lundberg Family Farms donated more than 485,000 pounds of food last year and predicts that food insecurity will continue in 2021.

9. Americans are losing sleep over their diets.

“Sleep is a hot topic heading into the coming year, with high levels of stress and anxiety contributing to difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep,” says Cassetty. “Whole grains, like brown rice and quinoa, play their part in sleep by supplying fiber and magnesium, which affect quality of sleep. Magnesium is a mineral that helps your mind and body relax, and it helps regulate a healthy sleep cycle. One recent study among post-menopausel women found that higher intakes of fiber-filled foods and whole grains were among the foods linked with lower insomnia levels.”

10. Climate is key.

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that 21%-37% of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to the world’s food system (agriculture, storage, transport, packaging, processing, retail and consumption). As a farm and food manufacturer, that means Lundberg Family Farms has a huge opportunity to make a positive impact on the world. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, recently wrote, “We should discuss soil as much as we talk about coal.”

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.

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