Food Trends: Bringing Health, Nutrition and Sustainability to the Fore
October 15, 2014
Jacqueline O’Leary writes on how the food industry is changing for the better.
There has likely never been a time in US history when there was so much concern surrounding the source of our food, its preparation, how it’s served and what it does to us. The antithesis to times past when anxieties about getting enough food abounded and whether those calories were really “good” for us mattered not. What mattered most was that they were available!
The intervening period marks a time when more calories were produced than there were people to consume them. Born largely from federal agricultural policies of the 1970s, this era ensured that, for Americans, food would be cheap and plentiful.
Behind it there was perhaps a noble intention – a healthier nation, a larger market for farmers or even more disposable income per household. Regardless of the motive, these policies had consequences and their side effects still reverberate today, both on our waistlines and on our environment.
Consumers are demanding “better” food
Now, the pendulum swings again. Even though calories are still abundant, consumers are looking for food that won’t have long-term ill effects, either directly on their health or indirectly by harming our planet.
This is not the only demand the modern discerning consumer is making: food should also fit a diet they identify with – vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or otherwise – and have a favorable nutrient profile, while still tasting delicious. Clearly the intention here is to achieve health through food. A tall order, perhaps, for the foodservice industry?
And what’s driving this change? Is it really Millennials and their specific needs, or is it somehow the result of a universal shift in consciousness? The answer arguably lies at the confluence of many factors, all of them evolutionary.
So what’s next?
As human beings, we no longer have the day-to-day concern of our survival as a species, and neither do we have the responsibility of building a modern society from scratch. Preceding generations took care of that for us and as a result bestowed upon us the luxury of time, technology and scientific understanding to learn from our past and look ahead and visualize our future. From that vantage point, we seemingly understood that our imperative is to evolve our way of being.
In essence, we are entering a new paradigm, one that has at its core the convergence of health, nutrition, sustainability and our environment. Shifts in the way people are choosing to eat or the way organizations conduct their business are happening because we as citizens of the world are evolving, and for the better.
This is our time. Let’s embrace it and be ready; let’s be the change - for ourselves and for mankind!
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