Vegetarian. Vegan. Bland. Unsatisfying. Rabbit food.
Those descriptors are exactly what plant-forward eating does not have to be. The food industry is abuzz about the huge rise in plant-based everything—from burgers to butter. This global trend isn’t about removing meat or animal products from the plate. But “plant forward” instead praises plant foods, like produce, peanuts and other nuts, legumes and more, and encourages making them part of our diets more often.
Mexico’s demand for peanuts outweighs supply so the U.S. is a top source for peanuts. And it’s been growing in importance. From 2007 to 2017, US peanut sales to Mexico more than quadrupled. That’s a lot of cacahuetes! In the U.S., the number one way to enjoy peanuts is in peanut butter. But in Mexico, it’s all about peanut snacks.
The food landscape is changing faster than ever. No longer do we want foods that simply fill our stomachs, we want to choose foods that help change the world, that foster social causes or give back to the environment, and more.
Several peanut and peanut butter companies reflect this larger, broader role food has taken on in recent years, while still making sure peanut products are both delicious and nutritious. Here’s a look at three companies taking on causes that are making real changes in our world.
Peanuts originated in South America 10,000 years ago, and their spread to the northern neighbor Mexico positions peanuts in this cuisine as authentic and traditional as it gets. Few cooking experts understand this better than Chef Iliana de la Vega. Originally from Mexico City, Chef Iliana’s calm and friendly demeanor belies a steely determination to share traditional regional Mexican cuisine within the US. Chef Iliana has established herself as the premiere expert on Latin cuisine, including receiving the prestigious Ohtli award from the Mexican government in 2014.
I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) who is not an advocate for extreme diets that cut out whole food groups. But there are two eating patterns I can get behind: Flexitarian and Mediterranean. I view them as eating patterns because they are relatively sustainable and health-promoting. Both the Mediterranean and Flexitarian diets include all food groups and provide more variety than fad diets.
The ease, convenience and affordability of street foods is what launched them into the hearts and stomachs of people throughout the world. The food trucks, carts and booths that sell street foods are unique – they are often locally owned and operated, but feature global cuisines. The offerings are ever changing, adapting to new trends and testing new flavors, always providing consumers with tasty and trendy dishes.
So, what’s hot and next for street foods?
American-born Taiwanese Chef restauranteur Chris Cheung has quite the killer resume – having cooked with famed chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Vong and Jean-Georges. Currently, he serves as the executive chef of Tansuo restaurant in Nashville, and also runs NYC’s restaurant, East Wind Snack Shop – known for delicious dumplings and being one of the last standing Taoishan Tea Houses in NYC. But before all this came to be, Chris was living in China, studying dim sum in Hong Kong and farm-to-table cooking in the villages of Shanghai. Chinese cuisine isn’t just a passion for Chris, it has been his life’s passion. So naturally, the National Peanut Board wanted to know more and shot Chris five questions to learn more about the art behind his cuisine.
Forty states are expected to have water shortages over the next ten years. U.S. communities are starting to face both quality and supply issues, unrelated to drought, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). America’s agriculture sector accounts for about 80 percent of U.S. water consumption, according to the USDA.
And peanuts are the most water efficient of all nuts, using only 4.7 gallons of water to produce one serving (1 ounce) compared to almonds, for example, which use 80.4 gallons per ounce. Worldwide peanut production contributes to just 1 percent of the global water footprint, which is the measure of water used to produce goods and services.
At Snackbar restaurant in Oxford, Mississippi, executive chef Vishwesh Bhatt is serving up Southern fare with global flare. His Indian roots add cultural influence to his culinary repertoire, but it’s common ingredients like peanuts that inspire his bold, global approach to Southern cuisine.
Chinese consumers love peanuts. The country is the number one producer of peanuts and yet China still imports peanuts from the US and other countries to meet the demand. This summer, American global food brand McDonalds tapped into Chinese love of peanut products and launched an LTO of a beef burger topped with a steamed egg and creamy peanut butter sauce. In a four-star review of the sandwich, this site said, “for those not in the know, peanut butter is probably the single greatest addition to a burger.”
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