By Dora Hasan Mekouar – Yogurt, pizza and chicken sandwiches are the rising stars of the American diet, according to a consumer research firm that just published its 29th annual Eating Patterns in America Report.
“The real ‘Foods of the Decade’ are not hummus, quinoa, nor kale, and not even Sriracha,” Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group and author of the report, said in a new release. “The real foods and beverages of the decade are those that have increased the most in the American diet.”
The foods that have increased the most in the American diet include include yogurt, bottled water, pizza, poultry sandwiches, Mexican food, fresh fruit, bars, frozen sandwiches, chips and pancakes. The all-star foods on the list require little or no effort to prepare.
To reach its conclusions, the report surveyed 5,000 people during a two-week period. The respondents came from 2,000 households across America, a sampling intended to be a microcosm of the U.S. population. The report’s 10-year assessment period helped Balzer separate the novelty fads from lasting trends.
A decided trend he documented over the past five years is the American public’s tendency to eat at home more often. For over a generation, Americans ate many of their meals at restaurants, but the recession curtailed that national habit and it hasn’t recovered since.
Although Americans still go out to restaurants about 200 times a year, since 2000, we haven’t been able to afford to eat out more often than that. Americans now eat eight out of 10 meals at home, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re cooking more.
“We’re always looking for someone else to do the cooking,” Balzer told VOA, “and in this case we can’t use restaurants to do more of the cooking so we’re looking for the food manufacturers to give me ready-to-eat foods to make my life easier and to make my food cost cheaper.”
Balzer, who has followed America’s eating patterns for 29 years, says eating at home has increasingly prompted Americans to turn to portable foods that require little effort to eat.
“We still have this desire for someone else to do the cooking,” Balzer said. “If it can’t be the restaurants to do more of the cooking, what we do is take snack foods, things that are easy to eat and make them our main meals. So yogurt becomes lunch…a bar and a fresh fruit becomes breakfast…we’re looking at how to make life easier by making those meals that we eat in our home easier to prepare.”
Balzer also keeps track of foods Americans are moving away from. Those foods include soft drinks, steak, pot roast, cake gelatin, toast and corn.
Why corn? According to Balzer, side dishes are declining in this country as Americans continue to move toward one dish or main-dished focused items. That might explain why vegetables, which are often served as a side dish, haven’t joined fruits on the top 10 list of the all-star foods of the decade.