In a classic case of the chicken and the egg, it’s not always easy to determine just how restaurant menus are crafted. Does the establishment base its menu off the opinions of its patrons, or do the patrons go to the restaurants who already serve the foods they like?
As it turns out, it’s a little of both, with new diet trends and a call for one of the most overweight countries on Earth to start eating healthy, restaurants are beginning to modify their menus to accommodate the needs of diners.
It’s fairly straightforward thinking that, if you are in the mood for some fettuccine alfredo, you’ll probably make reservations at an Italian restaurant. If you want fish tacos, you’ll lean Mexican. Usually, we base our decision on where we’re going to go for dinner on, primarily, the food that the restaurant serves. And while that may be true as a general rule (as in, the country of origin of the food you’re seeking out) the often-changing and adapting menus of today’s restaurants are opening the doors for healthier eating and new diet options that were unavailable just years ago.
Almost out of nowhere, “gluten” became a buzzword. Analyzing Google trends tells us that searches for the word gluten were about 17% as common in 2004 than they are today. Every which way, we find people who have decided to go gluten-free, whether it’s because they have Celiac Disease or because they have heard bad things about the wheat protein and have deemed it avoidable. Food packaging is beginning to label just about everything feasible as “Gluten Free!” even things that gluten isn’t normally present in, like teas, soda and chicken breast.
Due in part to this trend and the rising prevalence of Celiac disease, gluten-free menus was named as a rising trend in the restaurant industry in 2014. Restaurants, from fast food establishments to upscale eateries, are taking notice of the trends and modifying their menus accordingly. Similarly, sourcing non-GMO ingredients has been a hot-button issue as the debate rages on as to their safety.
Outside of the world of gluten, many Americans are jumping aboard the health-food trend. Even fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King have begun adding healthier options to their menus like salads or apples. The work in redesigning a menu for a global chain takes a lot of time, and a lot of money, but many eateries are taking the hit to bring themselves into the realm of healthy fast food, whether we as people are ready for it or not.