Santa Barbara already has a flourishing foodie scene with an increasing number of both homegrown and imported “culinarians” making their splash via pop-up dinners and Funk Zone hangouts. We even have our own Annual Foodie Awards.
Within this fast-growing social scene are consumers choosing their delectable delights alongside health-promoting foods, keeping them fit and full at the same time. While these two worlds couldn’t possible co-exist even five years ago, the rise of pressed juice bars and Superfoods has successfully changed the landscape. The health-conscious foodies, like myself, who favor preventative health and nutrient-dense foods that also taste delicious finally have a place. Superfoods are no longer for the hippies and fermented beverages are no longer limited to home kitchens.
» Locavore Movement — Using a 100-mile radius as our guide, Santa Barbara locavores prefer to tackle their shopping at the Saturday farmers' markets, Fairview Gardens’ farm stand, food co-ops, or by participating in a community-supported agricultural program like that provided by local grower Ellwood Canyon Farms. The top-three menu trends on the National Restaurant Association’s list all reflect this growing local food movement. The NRA predicts locally sourced meat and seafood, locally grown produce, and environmental sustainability will be big selling points for diners in coming years.
» Non-GMO Labeling — While Prop 37, requiring mandatory GMO-labeling on food products, was defeated in California in 2012, the “Non-GMO Project” has continued to grow in size and scope. Now with the strong support of multiple grocery store chains, such as Lassens, Whole Foods Market and New Frontiers Natural Marketplace, this nonprofit organization believes that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether to consume genetically modified organisms. In the last two years alone, hundreds of food product companies have sought their “seal of verification” and gained noteworthy recognition and placement at supporting grocery stores, like those mentioned above.
» Food as Thy Medicine — Gone are the days of fad diets. Whether we add kale to our breakfast smoothie or have Reishi mushroom as part of our daily vitamin routine, health-conscious foodies commonly relate to their food as “medicine.” While we appreciate and value a delicious taste, we also want the most “bang for our nutritional buck.” Food distributors are catching on to this trend so, in 2014, you will continue to see a rise in nutritionally dense foods taking the place of empty calorie snacks at the checkout line.
» Dandelion as the New Kale
A local friend — both a foodie and chef for pop-dinners — recently said with a straight face, “You know, I get a lot of greens in my diet, but I just don’t get enough dandelion. I need more of that.” Rich in iron, potassium and zinc, this bitter green is said to detoxify both the liver and gallbladder, and can now be found in juice bars across the country. Every other farm stand has it for sale next to their kale, and interestingly enough, the dandelion usually goes first. Will we eventually see dandelion “chips” as they made out kale? I don’t think so.
» Cold-Pressed Juice
Now a $5 billion industry, the cold-pressed juice trend hit the streets running and is not stopping anytime soon. In 2013 Santa Barbara alone saw three new juice companies join the scene (The Juice Club, Pressed Juicery, Juice Well). Cruising the street with your local sourced, organic juice (preferably bottled in glass) is now a “cool kid” thing, and if you’re really cool you’ve also tried a juice cleanse. Fortunate for us, this trend promotes long-lasting, radiant health.
» Medicinal Mushrooms
Not only will you find Reishi supplements in your medicine cabinet, but you can also order it as part of a Reishi-Shilajit Latte at Santa Barbara’s hip elixir bar, Kotuku Elixir Bar & Superfood Store, 25 E. De la Guerra St. Reishi to fight cancer is so positive that the Japanese government officially recognizes it as a cancer treatment. Hailed in ancient Eastern medicine as the "mushroom of immortality," Reishi mushroom is showing up in herbal coffee elixirs, superfood smoothies, cold-pressed juices and as supplements by the dozens.
— Allison Antoinette is the founder and CEO of The Juice Club, a Santa Barbara-based, organic pressed juice company. She is a UC Santa Barbara alumna, an ambassador for Lolë, with a background in herbal medicine, environmental studies and the science of yoga. She can be found in her juice kitchen, on the tennis court or noshing on dark chocolate. Click here to contact her, or call 805.364.2462. The opinions expressed are her own.