It’s interesting to look at how we eat and shop in the 21st century. Obviously, through the centuries, we’ve gone from food foraging to food gathering to food heating and cooling to food processing to fast food, microwavable meals and now back to real food.
An article written last April in Food Technology Magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists—a group of people who actually chart food trends–came up with some industry data that sheds light on our collective eating habits. And even though it’s a year old, many of the observations hold true today.
• Fresh and Refrigerated Foods: Shoppers are buying more fresh ingredients, 10% more than three years ago. Nearly 80% of consumers say they are making a concentrated effort to buy fresh rather than processed foods.
• Eating for a Specific Lifestyle: Family meals are practically a thing of the past (sad to hear). Nearly half of all meals are eaten alone, and only 27% of family meals include children. This has caused a diversity of eating patterns, grocery packaging and new product development unseen in past generations.
• Snacking: In-between meals have grown from two to three times a day and more. Some people are actually grazing all day long and never sitting down to a full meal. This has spawned a plethora of “meals on the go” in the form of smoothies, refrigerated juices, nutritional bars (especially meat bars), trail mixes, popcorn and nut butters.
• Ethnic Cuisines: Food by region and country, perhaps encouraged by heightened palates brought about by increased travels to far-away places, has led to gourmet products such as oils, cheeses, Indian, Asian, African and South American foods. All of a sudden fermented food has been rediscovered. Descriptive words such as “fire-roasted” are seen on packaging. Global flavors few ever heard of before the last two years are now part of the vernacular: harissa, aji, yuzu, za’atar.
• Diets: Juggling flavor, nutrition and calories has become a household exercise. Vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, Gluten-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, RAW—many are familiar with these trends, and one in 10 shoppers are greatly influenced by them, especially those who are accustomed to reading labels.
• Meat alternatives: Besides vegetables, the almighty egg is still considered by some nutritionists to be a perfect food and a great meat alternative. Dr. Andrew Weil, an American physician, author, spokesperson, and broadly described “guru” for holistic health and integrative medicine, whose weekly newsletter GreenAcres follows regularly, is a great believer in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds being everyone’s staples, with animal protein eaten rather as a “condiment” instead of as a main course.
• Breakfast: Once relegated to a choice of sugary cereals, or not eaten at all, breakfast is now embraced as a mainstay meal indulged in five times a week. Having more energy, mental focus and maintaining a desired weight motives today’s breakfast eater to take the time to fuel up. Breakfast burritos, egg and ham sandwiches, Green Drinks and fruit smoothies are leading the charge in breakfast fare. At GreenAcres, we’ve noticed for the last several years, consumers are choosing breakfast from our all-organic salad bar in our stores that have them. They grab a hard-boiled egg, grapes, nuts, bacon chards and sometimes celery (!) and eat when they get to work.
• Rethinking Natural: Consumers looking for local foods, region honeys, home-grown sprouts and produce that can be delivered within an hour from farm to market to table have continued to influence the food industry. Since 2014, 29% of consumers have bought more organic products, 25% more natural foods and 23% more non-GMO offerings. Obviously, the consumer who shops in natural food stores has influenced the supermarket industry. In Kansas, Kroger (Dillons stores), Walmart and Aldis have all altered their produce to reflect more organic food.
• Whole Food Nutrition: Fiber, whole grain, non-wheat flours (potato, rice, barley, coconut) have continued to entice consumers, while fermented beverages, organic fruit juices (no sugar added), vegetable smoothies, RAW and natural-plant-based-sweetened desserts (Swerve) have been embraced enthusiastically. $5 deposit casino
• Fast Meals, Not Fast Food: Consumers are cooking better and faster (under 20 minutes) using produce, pounded free-range chicken and marinated thinly sliced meats and fish. Crock pot meals are back in style (dinner ready when you get home from work.) And packaged, all-natural meals that are thawed throughout the day, then thrown into the oven and placed on the table when dinner is served.
• Weight Watching: Half of all adults are watching what they eat—66% for health reasons, 55% to lose weight, 40% to limit fat, sugar, sodium, 38% to prevent future medical issues, 37% to maintain weight, 22% to treat a current medical conditions, and 10% for a real or perceived food allergy or intolerance.
So there you have it. For sure we’re heading in the right direction where we’ve fully begun to eat for nutrition and not just out of a whim.
Rest assured, GreenAcres will continue to educate and offer our patrons the very best organic and natural-food experience we can find. Our collective health depends on it!