12 MAR 2018: While cruising on Oceania’s Marina last month, I signed up for a couple of their extra charge La Reserve by Wine Spectator wine and gourmet dinner affairs. I expected some of the wines would be a first for a number of the 24 guests at each meal. What I didn’t expect was the food would be too, such as was the case with the elegant lady in her seventies who announced she had never eaten lobster before. Turns out there are a lot of currently trendy foods boomers haven’t touched.  

A study of 2,000 adults aged 60 and over, conducted via OnePoll.com in Britain revealed that chia seeds, matcha and quinoa are just some of the foods adults over the age of 60 have never tried, despite their increasing popularity among younger generations. Even foods like duck, eggplant and asparagus are untouched by more than one in 10 people nearing or in retirement.

Not surprisingly, the study found a noticeable generation gap between the eating habits of older adults and that of millennials. For example, among the older group 52 percent have never tried avocado on toast, an item that I found to be almost a staple on all the hotel and trendy restaurant menus in Calgary, a city teaming with millennials.

It all fits with what I have been seeing in restaurant trends around the globe. The traditional white table cloth restaurants where the music is low and the food familiar, are populated with the white-haired set – and somewhat sparsely at that. Meanwhile hip vegan eateries, standing room only tapas style places and restos with healthy twists on the contemporary are packed with the younger demographic.

The move driven by the younger crowd is towards more ‘healthy’ foods and ‘superfoods’ namely flax seeds, goji berries, chia seeds, quinoa and the like showing up on menus. Avocado is on a tear. (Avocado toast is a top-ranked trendy breakfast option among 100 million annual breakfast entries on MyFitnessPal’s app and came in at number two for 2018 food trends in an annual survey of dieticians done by Pollock Communications.)

Teas are shifting from the standard black to blends of tea leaves, fresh herbs, spices and choice botanicals to enhance health and well being. Forget Tetley, tea is becoming a craft experience of turmeric tea lattes, stone-ground matcha and cold brew oolongs in tea bars around the world.

In luxury spas and hotels Tea Forté is upping the ante with their Sipscriptions, Chakra and Matcha lines.

Among the Sipscriptions teas for example is Resist Tea, which contains echinacea and ginger to help bolster immunity. The Chai teas take an Indian tradition and ups the wellness factor such as with Turmeric Tantra Chai with its anti-inflammatory turmeric and soothing licorice. The Macha teas add flavour and zing (Coconut Matcha and Ginger Matcha for example) to the traditional Japanese ritual.

The air travel industry has taken note. The sixth Airport Food & Beverage Conference and Awards (FAB) took place in Toronto last year. Organised by The Moodie Davitt Report/The Foodie Report, it included presenters such as celebrated Chef Lynn Crawford and live cooking demonstrations with Toronto’s Chef Massimo Capra. Noted speakers outlined their views about the key dynamics that will drive the market in the future – of major note was the rise of healthy food as a trend.

Airports are catering to the trend with more fresh market outlets offering salads, healthy juices, sushi and crudo (seasoned raw fish). Soon I imagine avocado toast will be the norm in airports. Some airport websites now have dedicated pages for vegan and healthy food options in their airports. Heathrow’s page guides travellers to vegan, vegetarian, kosher, halal, gluten-free and wheat-free options. DFW Airport has an official mobile app that lists restaurants that offer healthy options. 

Farm to terminal might soon be a regular treat. Airline lounges now offer a selection of salads, fruits and vegetables along with the pastas, breads, pretzels and tacos. (Thank you Air Canada for the kale, the celery and the quinoa.)

In the air, carriers are responding to this demand, making healthier choices one of the bigger airline food trends. Organic, gluten free, whole grain, and vegetables are on order. Delta for example introduced foods from LUVO, including fresh fruit and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast and vegetables and hummus wraps for main meals. On certain routes, Air Canada’s business class passengers get Vancouver Chef David Hawksworth’s creations such as sushi-grade tuna tataki or tamari-roasted sable fish with bok choy.

That travelling lady who never tried lobster before may soon find herself digging into quinoa salad, tuna crudo and chia coconut dessert washed down with matcha tea on her next trip.


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Margaret Swaine

Margaret is a nationally published wine, spirits, food and travel writer, who has authored thousands of articles on these subjects for magazines and newspapers.

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