What foods will be big in the Berkshires in 2017?

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2017 will be the year of healthy eating in the Berkshires, or at least, that's what many local chefs and food purveyors believe.

"The biggest thing I really see in food trends right now is people thinking health conscious and wanting vegan or gluten-free meals. Not because of allergies. It's a personal health preference," said David Barile, owner of two On A Roll Caf s, one in Pittsfield and one in Lenox, and a busy area caterer.

Chef Michael Ballon, owner of Castle Street Caf in Great Barrington for more than 30 years, who relies on "quality ingredients and bold seasoning, being responsive to the tastes and special requests of diners and offering a diverse menu at a good value," confesses to being an old-fashioned chef "far more interested in the timeless than the trendy," but agrees with Barile.

"I think it is safe to say that recent trends, like gluten-free and locally sourced are here to stay," he said.

At Guido's Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield and Great Barrington, co-owner Chris Masiero said he sees customers wanting many sorts of fresh greens, both local and exotic — locally grown heads of baby mesclun, micro-greens, rainbow kale and other vegetables, like carrots of all colors.

"Local, organic and non-GMO from artisanal small producers are still on the front burner and people expect places like Guido's to maintain quality and safety for them," he said.

This year may be about healthy eating, but in a more modified, long-term way that doesn't stop us from enjoying what we eat, according to Joy Bauer, a part-time Berkshire resident, national nutritional authority, author and television personality.

"People are tired of jumping from one restrictive diet to another," she said. "Here's the simple truth: We don't want to give up our favorite foods. This year, we'll continue to come up with clever ways to health-ify and lighten up comfort foods, so we can continue to enjoy the dishes we love, while also working toward our health and weight goals."

She suggests substituting cauliflower for mashed potatoes, rice and for a healthy and gluten-free pizza crust.

Fresh and local is even coming to public schools in the Berkshires.

"Kids are trying more things than they used to, especially if they are fresh and local," said Sylvana Bryan, Pittsfield Public Schools nutrition director. "It's a slow go, but it's happening. We get local kale, which we use in our salads, and bok choy, which we use in our stir-fries. I get apples from Hilltop Orchard [in Richmond] and the kids like that. The butternut squash has gone over well and we're getting local sweet potatoes starting in January. I see healthy, local, whole grains continuing and just getting more and more accepted."

People can get fresh, locally grown, raised and produced foods this Saturday,at two winter farmers markets. Berkshire Grown will sponsor one from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Monument Valley Middle School in Great Barrington The Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club on Melville Street, Pittsfield.


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