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I recently read an article on NRN (Nation’s Restaurant News) of Chef predictions for the top menu trends of 2014. As I scanned the list, it occurred to me that although they list ten separate trends, all of the trends roll up into three main categories. So here’s my “Cliff’s Notes” version of the top ten menu trends for 2014.

Local is all the Rage

Sourcing menu ingredients from local farms is a trend that I believe is here to stay. According to a recent UN report, small organic farms are the only viable long-term solution to feeding our global population. This report underscores the importance of including locally sourced produce, meats and seafood on your restaurant menu.

Buying local not only has a positive impact on our environment. You are also helping small businesses in your area. Supporting your neighbors, and strengthening the economy in your community.

Including locally grown ingredients on your menu can give your business a boost, because people love to support neighborhood businesses. So when you do add local ingredients to your recipes, be sure to highlight it on the menu and in your marketing!

Catering to the Health Conscious

Awareness that “you are what you eat” is growing, and more clients are requesting healthy menu choices. So it makes sense that nutritious menu options are a growing trend. Parents are especially concerned with their children’s dietary choices, and they want to see healthy alternatives on the kids’ menu.

Special Diets

Food allergies are on the rise and dietary restrictions can keep people with food sensitivities from enjoying a meal out. They are craving a restaurant where they can eat a tasty repast that won’t make them ill. So adding a few items to your menu that cater to specific dietary restrictions can give your eatery a competitive advantage. Including tasty menu options that are gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, low carb, or even paleo can attract a new following for your restaurant.

Sustainable Harvest

You have to be living under a rock to be oblivious of the fact that everyone is talking about, and most are trying to practice sustainability. From where we source our food, to the type of light bulb we use, sustainable living and dining practices are on the rise.

Buying and serving sustainable seafood can have a significant impact because you can also take the opportunity to educate your patrons. The Monterey Bay Aquarium maintains a Seafood Watch list that you can download free and distribute with your menu.

Making the move to sustainability isn’t hard, and you can make small changes in your restaurant that can have a huge impact on not only the environment, but also your budget. Sustainability is a favorite WebDiner topic, so please check out our “green” blog posts for more information on how to implement small changes that can make a big difference.

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