Vegetables are King
In our last series we explored different types of steaks, why they were good, and appropriate times to cook them. In this series we wanted to explore the polar opposite and see if the surging veggie trend holds up. We all have terrible memories of being forced to eat bland, overcooked broccoli as a kid, but the latest veggie spike is much more than that. It’s about treating the vegetable as the main ingredient, prepping it, seasoning it, and cooking it with the care you would a prime cut of meat. So is it a flash in the pan, or is it here to stay?
Produce prices have seen a 10-15% increase in the last year alone, and experts are saying with climate change becoming more prevalent, prices are only going to become more volatile. For example, in the past six months avocado prices have doubled in some parts of the US, largely due to high demand and dry weather conditions. (Sadly, this hasn’t impacted the supply of avocado toast pictures on Instagram…) Don’t let this discourage you though, veggies are still a much cheaper option than meat. The key is to buy in-season items, as vendors have more suppliers to choose from meaning better quality, fresher produce, and lower prices.
For many it’s hard to comprehend how something like a cauliflower could compete against a steak. This isn’t unwarranted. Meat naturally has more fat and salt in it, so with little effort it tastes better. That said, it doesn’t take much to infuse those flavors and turn a raw vegetable into a delicious dish. Fat and salt largely impact how palatable something is, and given the absence of these in veggies it affords greater use of these ingredients when cooking. Add a few herbs and spices, and all of sudden you have something that’s soft, succulent, and (dare we say) sexy.
The vegan trend, despite being ridiculed at every turn, has largely shaped the way we view vegetables and how versatile they can be. As a result, more and more veggie-centric restaurants are popping up, often becoming the cool, new, must-try hotspots. This is pushing chefs to make impressive dishes, which funnels down to the recipes we make at home. It’s tough to know how long this popularity will last, but it’s safe to say it’s still on the fringes of the mainstream.
Whether it ends up being the next big thing that spikes before a free fall, or if it is a seismic shift in the way we approach food has yet to be determined. What we do know is that it seems to still be in the early days, meat prices continue to rise, and the food industry is constantly innovating (see eggless mayonnaise.) So maybe don’t bet the farm on it, but don’t be afraid to buy from one.