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#9 Food Trend for 2011: Discomfort Food

Eating your way out of your comfort zone

This is one of The Food Channel's Top 10 Food Trends for 2011, based on research conducted in conjunction with CultureWaves®, the International Food Futurists® and Mintel International. For the full list, click here.


Eating your way out of your comfort zone. In some ways, we've grown accustomed to a topsy-turvy world and are embracing food that accentuates that. However, at other times, we find the situation just a little bit unnerving. This trend is about consciously trying new things that stretch our food vocabulary and experience.

Comfort food, in the traditional sense, is a destination. You deliberately choose it because you need a reminder of home, but it's not a part of your regular diet. Comfort food is a personal choice. 

Discomfort Food, a term used by TIME Magazine when summarizing research conducted by Stacy Wood of the Moore School of Business, is a reflection of personal choice as well. We have come to grips with change, and have realized that trying new foods and flavors brings its own set of comforts. So we are willing to try calamari salad without battering the rings. We even venture into sea urchin or skate, instead of tilapia. We dare to check out the Moroccan restaurant, and not just the Mexican. We are intrigued by molecular gastronomy on our forks and by broiled kale on our plates.

Once change starts to happen and people get over their initial fear, it is inevitable that more change follows. The economy drove us to change, and it’s as though we discovered some much-needed discomfort to shake up our taste buds. In 2011, we think what's comforting will be less about mashed potatoes and more about roasted root vegetables. In other words, looking for something we haven't tried before, and taking comfort from our new willingness to expand our horizons.

Discomfort Food is about pushing yourself to try something new, even in small doses. So for some it may be about some new toppings on frozen yogurt. For others, it may be one of the new holistic diets like the Daniel Fast, that explores the health connection between body, mind, and spirit. The point is that our food choices will be made deliberately, because we aren't afraid anymore. 

It's getting out of our comfort zone, and finding that reality can be comforting, after all. Read the full top ten. To view our Top Ten Foods to Watch in 2011, click here. 

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For evidence, read:

Discomfort Foods: Change May Make Us Crave It More

Is Comfort Food a Misnomer?

As More Americans Embrace Japanese Foods, Could Natto Be Next?

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