Happy 2020 to Just A Thought readers. I had almost decided to turn in my word processor

and stop writing this column. Too much commuting. Too little time in any one place. Then I

read New York Times writer Kim Severson’s article on what foods we would be eating in the

upcoming year. This was a subject that needed to be explored.

First and foremost, the specter of saving Earth will be sitting at the table with us every day.

Baby Boomers and their children are huge consumers. They grew up hearing horror

stories (some actually true) about dolphins tangled in nets with plastic straws lodged in their

snouts. Who wouldn’t wince at the thought? Fish must be caught humanely. All food sources

must pass the is-this-good-for-the-environment test.

Also, Japan is big. Maybe it’s the 2020 Olympic Games. Maybe foodies are tired of Brazilian

cuisine (last year’s fad menu item) and want to go farther east for satisfying chow. Enhancing

nutrition continues to be a goal for the new year. Blue is big too. More on that later.

The Earth: Because peas and buckwheat are good ground cover crops and actually

regenerate the soil and sequester carbon (whatever that means), farmers are planting them

with a vengeance. Eco-friendly marketers are desperately trying to figure out ways to use

them. So far pea and buckwheat flour are the primary developments. Almond flour, once the

darling of cutting-edge cooks, is passé (unless, of course, they find it sequesters carbon). A

hidden fear is that DuPont will put these products to nefarious usage. Remember what they

did with soybeans and corn—turned them into plastic and internal combustion fuel. Gasp!

Although they’re not to be eaten, reusable cups, napkins and utensils are the way to go now. It

is almost mandatory for Starbucks customers to bring their own coffee mugs. Metal straws are

trendy. If any item used to expedite a meal is biodegradable, it might pass muster. Huge NO

to anything headed to a non-recyclable landfill.

Japan: This holds promise. Especially since American diners tend to lump all Far East foods

into one giant wok or sushi bar. Rice, beef strips, chopped vegetables, clarified butter, exotic

spices, fresh fish, etc. The assortment of delicious ingredients and cooking methods are

endless when you head across the Pacific. Curry will be big (okay that’s Indian, but gourmands

are not overly geographically picky). A nice cup of sake or cannabis-infused tea will be the

perfect accompaniment for your plate of sashimi, thit kho or yakatori.

Nutrition: An innovation aimed at improving nourishment value is ice cream with puréed

veggies. For example, they hope that if they add enough mint flavor and chocolate to a gallon

of puréed spinach-laced vanilla they can pass it off a Peppermint Chip.

Hemp pasta may solve the too-many-carb problem. Broiled salmon balls instead of fish sticks

may soon appear on McDonald’s menus. Also new, and aspiring to get as many vitamins in

the system as possible, are snacks made from peelings. Think Beet Puffs or Kiwitos. No joke.

Now for the blue trend: If you’re suffering from insomnia butterfly pea powder in moon milk

(cow’s milk with honey and cinnamon) is a natural sleep inducer. Butterfly peas are a delicate

shade of blue, although no mention of carbon sequestration.

Ubes, purple yams, are hot, hot, hot. That is to say, in great demand—not tossed around the

room in a child’s game, although they would probably work for that too. Ube is the root

vegetable of choice by forward-thinking chefs and foodophiles.

Orach, aka mountain spinach, is not only a lovely shade of purple, it will soon be replacing

kale on salad plates across the land. The curmudgeon around the corner says nothing will

replace the kale on his plate because he had one bite of kale several years. One bite was

enough.

Fresh flowers, preferably blue ones, will not merely serve as garnishes. They will be eaten.

Possibly not in large quantities.

If a great deal of this is sounding rather unappetizing, take heart. The most up-to-the-minute

fashion food right now is pain de mie. There are several variations, but it consists of a large

hunk of heavily buttered, toasted bread that is hollowed out and filled with ice cream, custard,

honey, syrup, fruit, sugar sprinkles whipped cream or any other combination that will satisfy

your sweet tooth and warm your soul.

They did a quick poll to see which innovation was most likely to stand the test of time. The

smart money was on pain de mie. In fact, it did get every vote but two—one was for metal

straws and other for salmon balls. That pair obviously voted with their heads, not their hearts.