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Top 10 Food Trends continued...

Special Treats. On the flip side, consumers want their chocolate candy, creamers, and cookies.

Americana Wins. Shoppers are drawn to farm-raised foods as well as regional cuisines such as Southern cooking and barbecue.

Getting Real. Shoppers say they avoid foods with preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors.

Three a Day. The number of adults who say they eat three meals a day rose 6% during the past two years. Breakfast was most likely to be added.

Foods with Function. Consumers want more than good taste in foods. They want foods that are kind to cholesterol and blood pressure.

Home Sweet Home. Bringing snacks from home to movies is popular, perhaps driven by the weak economy. More snacking is done at home now. Home entertaining is up, too.

Foodies Are Us. Two-thirds of consumers say they are knowledgeable and interested in food. Young adults, ages 25 to 34, are most likely to call themselves ''foodies."

Grading the Food Trends

Clemens sees good news and bad news in the report. While he appreciates the lure of "'Americana" foods, he says "none of those comfort foods -- fried chicken, mac and cheese -- are consistent with dietary guidelines unless significant changes are made to the recipes."

The attraction of people to ''natural" foods may be well-meaning, he says, but is misguided. The term natural, he says, has no legal definition when on a food label, so anything goes. "Organic," on the other hand, is clearly defined, says Clemens, who is also chief scientific officer for E.T. Horn Company, a distributor of food ingredients.

The FDA states that it has not developed a definition for use of the term “natural” on food labels. The agency says that is has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.

The most potentially healthy trends, Clemens says, are the home cooking, three squares, and home rituals.

While cooking at home could be a good, healthy trend, "we need to educate people how to cook more healthfully," he says. About two-thirds of Americans still do not understand proper portion size, he says.

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