Eat your sweet potatoes – we’ll grow lots more
Interest in the health benefits of sweet potatoes – more fiber, vitamins A and C and beta carotene than white potatoes, with fewer calories – has led to a 40 percent increase in consumer demand since 2008, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture.
Since North Carolina leads the nation in sweet potato production, that means state farmers have increased the volume to meet demand. Poor weather brought a drop in the number of acres planted in 2013, leading to higher prices. Now supplies have returned, with a 41 percent increase in shipments in 2014 and more stable prices. Kathleen Purvis
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The Cheddar Bo, a Bojangles biscuit with thick slices of aged cheddar, has been limited to Bojangles’ in Virginia and in Eastern North Carolina, where cheddar baked into a biscuit is a local thing. Now it will be added throughout the Southeast, including Charlotte, for a limited run that starts Jan. 4 (Dec. 29 in some places) and ends in late March. KP
Cooking more from scratch
Expect a redefinition of convenience foods in the next few years, according to NPD Group, a global information company that studies food consumption. In the Kitchen Audit, an annual look at 2015 eating trends, the company says frozen dinners and entrees are giving way to fresh ingredients prepared in convenient ways, such as food made with slow cookers and rice cookers.
Part of that is being helped by millennials, aged 20 to 30. Thanks to tighter economic times in the last few years, they’re getting comfortable in the kitchen at younger ages and spending less of their incomes in restaurants. They’re also showing more interest in using fresh foods and cooking from scratch, such as trading cold cereal for cooked breakfasts, such as eggs and pancakes. KP