Monday, April 26, 2010

Trend towards ingredients and other food to avoid

In short, from research I've seen, only a very small segment of consumers read labels and of those, few are aware of what specific ingredients used in food processing that they should steer away from. If we are talking about the Whole Foods shopper perhaps a few more are aware. Therefore, considering basic human behavior, I highly doubt consumers will be on the lookout for more than a few ingredients to avoid since it's hard enough for them to keep track of these details and factor all of this information into their diet.

As for trends in this area, we can think back to issues with Red Dye #3 and or even MSG. Any one additive ingredient can begin an awareness trend that would bring these issues to light today either because of a study that causes the government to bring attention to the ingredient or because of a consumer movement that tips the media attention.

I believe our problem today is that the consumer is overwhelmed by hearing about specific ingredients to eat or not to eat rather than following a more holistic approach with their diet considering how a particular food fits into their diet, budget, need for convenience and beliefs. Yes, it's important to stay as educated as possible about what we should eat but even more important to step back and put it all into perspective. We need to weigh the risks of what we eat in total. I believe in simple, guiding principals overall rather than expecting a consumer to know the healthy or non-healthy food or ingredient of the day.

We eat what we do because we consciously or unconsciously give ourselves permission. If we really took a look at what we consume honestly, would we give ourselves permission or would we make changes? More often than not we already know what we should do and just need some further guidance.

Here are some guidelines. Eat more whole foods and make tradeoffs as necessary. Be conscious and honest about these tradeoffs. Only when we are honest and diligent about our own food choices, will real change occur.

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About Me

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First trained as a food chemist and nutritionist, my career began enriching a Twinkie, comparing the nutrition of a Twinkie to an apple and studying the role of sugar in the diet. With an M.B.A. and years in food and pharma understanding consumers and manufacturers, I'm back to where I started - food should taste great and serve to keep us healthy. To do so, there needs to be consumer awareness. Consumers need to vote for what they want by buying what they really want. If they buy impulsively, that's what they will see more of. They need to practice balance and responsible choices. That's when change will come. Please engage me with your conversation so that I can help you make and stick to better food choices that you enjoy. You'll gain a deeper appreciation of food not only from farm to table but farm to health. My vision is to promote solutions for healthful food and food practices you can happily embody and embrace!