Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Influence of Millennials on Food Trends

A couple months ago I was asked if I'd be willing to answer some questions about Millennials and Food Trends.  I thought, why not?  I'm a Millennial, I love food, and I'm always interested in learning more about upcoming food trends.  So I agreed to do an interview with Successful Farming about my opinion on the subjects.

What do you see as the most topical food trends?

Millennials Influence on Food Trends - teaching the next generation
My kids love grocery shopping with me,
especially when they get their own cart!
I think the top food trends today are local and healthy.  As a Mom and the cook for my growing family, I have to agree.  I would classify myself as a foodie and I want to make sure my family is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.  I think a lot of young families are trying to make more homemade foods, but yet still want convenience for their busy lives.  I try to cook and bake with as many whole foods as possible.  The produce section is an area that I spend a lot of time in at the grocery store.  That being said, I also try to eat and prepare seasonal foods.  Purchasing foods when they are in-season not only gives me the best flavor, but also the best price.  I try to visit my local Farmer's Market in the summer at least a few times, which gives me access to seasonal foods.  I grow my own vegetable garden at home too.  I have an appreciation for local.  I try to shop local as much as possible.  One difference with local though is that others think if they can't buy direct from the farmer or manufacturer it isn't local.  I know that our pigs are sold to Tyson and that the Tyson pork roast or bacon at your grocery store could be from one of our pigs.  I also know that a large majority of the meats used at Subway are made from Iowa turkey.  There are a lot of local products in our grocery store and restaurants that don't have the local label on it.  I also love to try new foods and cooking techniques, which I think is a growing food trend too.  Making foods with Spanish, Italian, Greek, etc. flavors isn't uncommon for my family and I.  But when I was a kid, I didn't eat food with ethnic influences on a regular basis.  My basic cooking skills and recipes I learned from my Mom; my kids are now learning from me, which will carry these new food trends on to the next generation.

How do you think farmers have responded to these changing food trends?

Millennials Influence on Food Trends - CommonGround panel
I was apart of a "Hot Button Issues" panel last month
as part of the CommonGround program in Washington DC
I think farmers are doing a better job now, than ever before at listening to consumers.  Agriculture understands we can't ignore their interests.  With social media and access to information (both facts and myths) we need to make sure we are giving consumers correct information so they don't fear their food.  There are a lot of groups that do a good job of providing training for farmers on how to have conversations with consumers about food trends.  I personally have found trainings through CommonGround (which is a program of the United Soybean Board and National Corn Growers), Iowa Farm Bureau and the National Pork Board to be beneficial for myself.  And, I started this blog after participating in the Dupont Young Leader program four years ago.  Myself and other farmers see the need to make connections and build trust with our consumers.  Consumers want to know more about where their food comes from, so by participating in social media, media interviews, one on one conversations at the grocery store, etc. we are being more transparent about farming and food.  There are only around 2% of Americans involved in farming nationwide; that means around 98% of consumers don't live on the farm.  Farmers need to be apart of the conversation to help answer the questions of that huge majority.

New food trends have also created new demands and changing markets for farmers.  I personally believe in and love that we have food choices in America.  Because we have food choices, there are some farmers that have changed their farming practices to meet those new demands like, planting high-oleic soybean soybeans, raising crops and livestock USDA organic certified, creating direct-sales markets, etc.

As a Millennial, what are you doing to be part of the food trend discussion?

Millennials Influence on Food Trends - Sustainability for the next generation
My family and I in the tractor planting this past spring
I think my generation of Millennials are going to help "bridge the gap" between farmers and consumers.  Young farmers are technology savvy and have more resources now, than ever before, to be able to stay connected with the non-farm audience.  Just like with every generation, I believe there is a "movable middle" that we can influence and build trust with, but there are already some that are extreme on their views and we'll probably have to just agree to disagree.

I can relate to other Millennials because we have similar interests and goals.  I want to provide a healthy diet for my family and I have the same idealism of wanting to make the world a better place.  That is why we are always looking at new technologies and research so we can make our farm sustainable for the next generation.  We want to make the best choices and decisions for our farm so our land and animals are the best and healthiest they can be.

What do you think are current food trends?  How much influence do you think Millennials have on the marketplace?  Where do you go for trusted information on food?  Remember to Comment for a Cause!


  1. I totally agree...local food is really trending..and how cool to be a part of getting back to growing your own. Love it!

    1. I can't believe the number of friends that have an interest in growing their own garden, canning, etc. There is a lot we can get locally, and for other foods I'm glad we have a safe food chain nationwide.

  2. Love this! I've tried to convince T to expand our garden, but I don't think it's worked. Maybe next year!!

    1. I've traditionally done tomatoes, peppers, onions, and radishes, but this year I'm going to switch it up and I want to add cucumbers, cabbage and zucchini.

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