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CCFB News» March 2023

Downwind"What's Hot in 2023"

03/01/2023 @ 8:30 am | By Bob Rohrer, Manager

 

The Illinois Farm Families coalition has named 2023 “The Year of the Farmer”. To help promote it, the coalition kicked off a campaign called “We are the 96” during the Super Bowl on February 12.

 

Everyone knows you have to be hot or famous to be a part of the Super Bowl, right? Therefore…

 

Farmers are HOT!

 

What does that mean “We are the 96”? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 96% of farming operations in Illinois are family-based. This is a powerful message to share: 96% of Illinois farms are still owned and operated by families, just like yours.

 

Illinois Farm Families provides more details at Wearethe96.org.

 

My family is part of that 96%. Dad and Mom farmed with my uncle and aunt for many years. My siblings and I provided what I define as “unskilled” labor to support the farm operations. While some of us are a bit quirky, we are a farm family. We are the 96.

 

When my father and mother retired from farming, Dad chose to lease the farm to two brothers…another family farm. The lease is a crop share lease which means Dad remains an active farmer from the management side. That’s two family farms that are the 96.

 

And for more “hot” farm connections…

Food is HOT (and sometimes not)!

 

Each year, I make a point of checking out the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” Culinary Forecast. I like to know about the foods and food trends that I probably won’t eat in the coming year.

 

In January, I checked out the 10 hot food trends that made the 2023 list – and a shocker – I’m all about the top four!

 

Look at me, I’m a trendsetter!

 

#1: Experiences/local culture and community (my wife says every meal shared with me is a local experience)

 

#2 Fried chicken sandwiches and chicken sandwiches (Hey, I plan on eating a lot of chicken sandwiches this year…maybe I can boost it to the number one position?)

 

#3: The charcuterie board (I call that my late-night, after a board meeting snack… “cheese, summer sausage, and crackers on a paper plate”)

 

#4: Comfort fare (I eat that every day in my expandable, comfy jeans!)

 

In the “not hot category”, there were some “what’s hot” items on the list that I’m going to leave off my list in 2023…

  • Flat bread sandwiches/healthier wraps
  • Sriracha variations
  • Globally inspired salads
  • Zero waste/sustainability/upscaled foods

 

Perhaps next year I will give them a try.

 

From the “cooling down” foods from last year’s list (do we call them fads?), there is not much that I will miss…

  • pickle pizza (who even thought to try that?)
  • breakfast salads (add fried eggs, hash browns, and bacon and you got something going)
  • fruit flavored coffee (I would love to see that offered at a small-town diner)
  • pickled French fries (why do they have to go ruin the fried deliciousness?)
  • ranch water (I picture a horse trough)
  • up-scaled pigs-in-a-blanket (hmm - upscale pigs?)
  • Crudité platters (a veggie tray… I had to look that one up)

 

And, as the National Restaurant Association attempts to figure out what will be popular in 2024, I should let them know I plan on eating a lot of cheeseburgers!

 

However, I do not plan on eating a lot of mealworm cheeseburgers in 2024. Even if…

 

Insect protein is HOT?

 

The headline, “Beetleburgers could soon reach mass production – helping to feed the world” leapt off the page at me. Beetle larva, better known as mealworms, is being used to act as a meat alternative to alleviate hunger worldwide.

Mealworms also could be used as alternatives to sausages or chicken nuggets!

 

According to the article, a French bio company, Ynsect, is planning a global network of insect farms including nurseries and slaughterhouses to make this vision a reality. These mealworms can be turned into protein powders, burgers, shakes, cereal bars, and even cooking oils.

 

Imagine the potential: an entire bug growing facility, slaughterhouse, processing, and restaurant all under one roof. A true farm to table story!

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