The big food trend is food trends

US journalist, Brendan Francis Newman got the ball rolling in 2010 when he famously predicted that one of the big food trends of 2010 would be food trends, as “more and more people get into the business of predicting what is going to be popular in food.” And it has given rise to a growing cadre of profit-oriented predictioneers — cool-hunters who charge major corporations for their insights. But the urge to predict is not confined to businesses chasing the restless consumer dollar.

The New York Times has taken a look at the appeal of predictions, with a variety of guest writers attempting to explain the purpose they serve in our lives.

According to MIT social scientist Sherry Turkle, we make predictions “not to win a bet about the future, but to express a hope about what we might like the future to be”, author David Ropeik thinks that we do it “to give ourselves the feeling of control over our fate”, and writer Elif Bautman ties our desire to know what will happen next back to a narrative-based way of making sense of the world — after all, “the meaning of a narrative depends on its ending”. Meanwhile, John McWhorter of The New Republic has a more cynical explanation for predictions’ popularity: escapism, based on the fact that “visions of the future that catch on are typically evasions of modernity.”

The New York Times. Read more