Working with foods could be your next career. Here are some of the latest trends.
We have gourmet food choices for the inexperienced or time-challenged cook. There is a growing demand for healthy and tasty food. We value good food, but we don’t necessarily have the skills or time to prepare it. If you want a gourmet meal, you can buy a kit from the grocery store to help you cook that meal. Or you can even have it shipped to your home from one of a dozen food preparation online sites. Some or all of the ingredients and the instructions are provided to make a home-cooked, wholesome meal even for those who are challenged in the culinary department. Along the same vein, there is a burgeoning market for personal chefs and caterers to provide those gourmet meals to you without any effort on your part.
Foodies have taken over television. Food has become a spectator sport with shows such as Iron Chef, Top Chef, Guy’s Grocery Games and America’s Test Kitchen being watched by millions of viewers. Many of us dream of being the next Rachel Ray or Gordon Ramsay and live vicariously through these shows. Consumers want a front-row seat to watch the action — never mind that we may never make a seafood soufflé, nor have the skills to do it. We simply enjoy watching others compete in a manner that we aspire to emulate.
Food choices have become one of the ways we are working to improve our health. Gluten-free, no dairy, high protein, low cholesterol and low inflammation diets are some of the food regimes people adopt to improve their health without resorting to medicines.
There is a high demand for organic, natural and local foods. We love to know our local farmer and are inspired by the idea of wholesome foods cooked from scratch. Farmers markets and farm stands are popular places to buy food. Even when we purchase food in our local supermarket, we are looking for the organic or the Alaska Grown labels.
We love specialty foods. Claiming a 15 percent share of the total food market in 2014, specialty foods are defined as products of premium quality that may be made by small or local manufacturers, feature ethnic flavors or contain the best available ingredients. We are willing to pay extra to get wild blueberry jam rather than the Smucker’s variety. This is clearly one trend that can help our local economy as more small manufacturers and cottage food entrepreneurs provide food for this market.
If you are into food and want to become a food entrepreneur, do we have the opportunity for you! UAF Cooperative Extension and the Marine Advisory Program are offering a class to help you begin or expand your food business. This four-part series will be offered May 15-18 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. online. It can be taken on any computer with a reliable Internet connection. This course will explore the development and management of a successful specialty food business from inception to operation, including practical application of business planning, financing, accounting, permitting, feasibility analysis, marketing, and operational aspects of establishing and operating a specialty food business. See details and a registration link at www.uaf.edu/ces. Call Sarah Lewis, our agent in Juneau, at 907-523-3280, ext. 1 for further information. Class fee is $50.
These food trends are shaping the way we shop for food and also our local economy. Food is big business and a great way to earn a living.
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is associate director of the Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at email@example.com or by calling (907)474-7201.