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sHONALI MUTHALAlY
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FOOD Make this year healthier by eating everything that is natural, organic and hormone-free

AT THE SUPERMARKET Embrace variety when shopping for vegetables PHOTO: K. ANANTHAN
AT THE SUPERMARKET Embrace variety when shopping for vegetables PHOTO: K. ANANTHAN

P lan to eat healthier this year? To hit the gym thrice a week? To fight your gulab jamun addiction? New Year's resolutions might be dreadfully passé, but they do serve a purpose. After all, if we don't strive to be better we're doomed to spend our lives as sloppy couch potatoes, living from one artery-clogging meal to the next.

My guess is that this year is going to be far more healthier than the last. Here are the food trends we can expect this year.

Eat well, live long

Thanks to the locavore movement, which reached its peak last year, there's been an emphasis on promoting food that's grown within a 100 metre radius of where you live. Now, people reckon it's far more practical to support food that is sustainable: crops grown responsibly so they don't leach the soil, products with less packaging and — yes — less transportation. So put down those imported apples and pears. We still don't approve of them. We do, however, want you to make sure most of what you eat this year is natural, organic and hormone-free.

Get out your aprons

This is the year of home cooking. Not just dal-rice-pickle. Serious, demanding, stylish home cooking. Thanks to all those smoking-hot TV chefs, and the many hours you've spent salivating over ‘Master Chef Australia', it's very likely you're outfitting your kitchen with as much enthusiasm as your wardrobe, and bringing out the big guns: recipes on your iPad, oven experiments discussed on blogs, YouTube cooking classes and podcasts. We also predict there'll be more men in the kitchen now, and they'll be doing far more than just emptying the spice dabba.

Play supermarket roulette

Have you been buying the same ingredients for the past few decades? Is your grocery list startlingly similar to your mother's and grandmother's? Then it's time you embrace variety. This is the year of living dangerously. Try a new bean, pick a new vegetable, wander into your local market and ask the vendors for recipes.

India has a few passionate seed saver networks, where people get together and preserve traditional varieties of vegetables, pulses, cereals and plants. It's our job to support them. So be brave and experiment. Foodies all over the world are doing the same. Remember you have a resource your parents didn't have access to — the Internet. It's teeming with bloggers and chefs who are more than happy to share information and recipes.

Suitcase space is for shoes

No more scouring foreign supermarkets desperately buying up cheese and chocolates to bring home. We finally get almost everything in India. Want some mozzarella? Source it from Delhi. Or Kodaikanal. Or Auroville. Or any of the dozens of local producers who are now making everything from smoked gouda to mascarpone for tiramisus that can make an Italian mama jealous.

This year we'll see Indian producers stepping in to replace foreign sources. After all, we have the climate, the know-how and the information. So why should we import products we can make ourselves? Watch out for herbs and leafy vegetables from the hill station, jams and jellies made from local fruits and fabulous honey bearing the distinct flavours of its desi terroir. Heck, we're even breeding emus in farms from Tamil Nadu to Orissa. Emu kebabs anyone?

Bye-bye middle-man

Thanks to technology the days of the middle-man are numbered. Fishermen with cell phones now give you a call by 5 a.m., even as they row home with the day's catch. By lunchtime you have it on your table. You get great produce, he gets a fair price.

As farmer's markets proliferate in the U.K., Europe and America, in India too producers are getting savvier. Once organic farmers sold spinach and carrots out of their car boots, now they contact potential customers through Twitter and Facebook.

Food trucks have become the rage in New York by tweeting locations to customers. We have already seen Indian restaurants using phones and the net to advertise menus and deals. This year, as technology becomes cheaper and more accessible, we'll see more people jump on this bandwagon.

Here's to glamorous new beginnings.

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