Tag Archives: food trend

Let’s Be Natural

VegetablesStrolling through a farmers’ market on a warm summer day brings a whole host of sights and smells. On the other hand, walking through a grocery store does not always provided the same sense of rustic romanticism.

This could be a problem, as a recent piece from the Associated Press explains that consumers are increasingly looking for more “natural” foods on the market:  “Americans still love their fast food and packaged snacks, but they’re increasingly turning their noses up at foods that look overly processed.” Food manufacturers are trying to change this aesthetic to meet consumer demand within retail spaces like grocery stores and convenience marts.

Numerous industry producers are trying to create more “natural” looking products for consumption: “The result is that companies are tossing out the identical shapes and drab colors that scream of factory conveyor belts.” For instance, Kraft has recently focused on making turkey slices look more like “leftovers from a homemade meal rather than the cookie-cutter ovals typical of most lunchmeat.”

Concern has been raised that consumers might be fooled, in that changes may simply just be aesthetic. The natural debate that is to come from defining “natural” is still taking shape in the market and in the press. In the meantime, the shape of food presentation is changing, bringing some new aesthetics of the farmers’ market a bit more indoors. Perhaps the coming months will show how consumers react to this movement in retail. In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below.

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Having Your Fill of Protein at Breakfast?

Fried Eggs Bacon and Sausages on a PlateWith the general controlled chaos of getting yourself and your loved ones out of the door on time each morning, it can be quite easy to forget or forgo breakfast. Even if you do remember, there is also an overabundance of unhealthy ways to start the day, too. It turns out that a balanced breakfast including sources of lean protein not only provide fuel for the day, but they also affect your diet throughout the day.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, protein has become much more of a focus in consumers’ minds thanks to the popularity of high-protein diets: “Until recently, protein got little attention. Like a quiet child in a classroom of rowdies, it was often overshadowed by fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins.” Protein has been pushed into the limelight, as an essential part of the diet that can assist in weight loss, heart health, and muscle building.

Donald Layman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign explains that ingesting 30 grams of protein triggers protein synthesis and muscle growth. The intake of protein at breakfast, for example, could help fuel you and your muscles throughout the morning and make you feel full longer.

Before you bacon wrap that sausage link, it is important to remember that a variety of proteins exist out there, including protein sources that may be high in fat or calories. Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., writing for the Mayo Clinic, states: “foods such as red meat and full-fat dairy products” could “increase your risk of heart disease.”

Yogurt and berriesSo, seeking out lean proteins is a key concern.  A breakfast featuring foods like low-fat dairy products (including milk and yogurt), lean meat, and/or plant proteins are heart-healthy ways to stave off hunger and resist midmorning snacking.

It is important to talk with your doctor regarding any dietary concerns. Research on nutrition concerns like protein is also ongoing. Check out any of the links above to learn more about the role of protein in the diet and the potential benefits and risks associated with it.

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Is It Time For You to Get Some Culture? Check Out the Smooth Deliciousness of Kefir

Kefir? If you are not familiar with the term, you might be soon. At an increasing number of retail outlets one can find this cultured product that is smooth, creamy, and able to be flavored in numerous ways. Kefir “grains” are a mixture of yeasts and bacteria that are added to milk to ferment. The result is a smooth, creamy, and tangy smoothie-like drink. Kefir can be flavored with fruit, chocolate, etc.

So why the interest in this new food trend? Well, actually, there is nothing new about it! Kefir has been a popular drink in Eastern Europe for centuries. Lately, it has garnered a lot of attention in the States due to the fact that Kefir is chock-full of probiotics: tiny bacteria that can assist in the functioning of your GI System. It doesn’t hurt too, that Kefir has a rich mouth feel and smoothness that makes getting your probiotics a treat popular with many, including kids.

probugsOne can see a plethora of kefir products on the market reaching to numerous niche markets. For instance, kids can get their hands on ProBugs(TM) from Lifeway Foods, an “Organic Whole Milk Kefir for kids with fun characters and flavors even the pickiest eaters will like.” Low-fat, non-fat, and whole milk kefir; frozen kefir; organic kefir; and even kefir cheese are other product choices that have shown up in retail outlets across the country.

kefirFrom relative obscurity a few years ago, kefir has come a long way in the U.S. market. Lifeway, who controls 95-97 % of the American kefir market, has gone from a 12 million dollar a year company to a $80-100 million dollar company in approximately the last decade. The wide variety of products has provided an attractive and tasty way for consumers to garner more probiotics in the diet. To check out more about Kefir, including recipes and additional information on probiotics, check out the National Kefir Association’s webpage here.

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The Next Time Someone Bugs You to Go Out for a Grasshopper…


According to the UN, a simple answer for hunger might be flying around our faces, scurrying away from under our feet, and buzzing in our ears: insects. A recent report from the UN stated: “eating insects could help boost nutrition and reduce pollution.” To many, the idea just might be a bit revolting but consider that “over 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diet with insects” and that some insects are considered delicacies around the world.

Dismissed by some, the report brings to light a utilitarian answer to taking on the problem of world hunger. Can Americans stomach it though? Social convention has told us to associate insects with filth and disease, not protein and ecological soundness. Will practicality and accessibility trump social convention? What are your thoughts? Check out a BBC piece chronicling the story here and let us know your thoughts!

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Haute Culture: The Rise of Yogurt

2012 appears to have definitely produced a dairy and food industry powerhouse: yogurt. Sales of yogurt are up 15% from 2010 and yogurt interests are gearing up for more of the same ahead. In the grocery store, in fast-food settings like McDonald’s, and elsewhere, the popularity of yogurt has seen remarkable growth in the past few years in the United States.

Several key industry moves indicate the strength of yogurt in the U.S. market. The introduction of greek-style yogurts by companies like Chobani and Fage has agreed with American taste buds: both are expanding their operations in the United States. Dannon, a well-known yogurt brand in the U.S. is increasing the size of its operation, and perhaps most interestingly, PepsiCo has put their hat into the ring. Partnering with Theo Muller, a German dairy company, PepsiCo is “investing $206 million in a 363,000-square-foot plant in Batavia, N.Y., announced in February, that will employ some 180 people and churn out five billion cups of yogurt a year.”

One of the hopes yogurt makers have is that this trend will continue, and that American consumption will begin to mirror consumption in Canada and in European countries: “Americans on average consumed 12 pounds of yogurt a year, or half as much as Canadians and a third the amount of Europeans.”

With such unprecedented growth, it is hard for yogurt producers to not be excited, but the question remains if the growth that has been witnessed reflects a fundamental change in the American palate, or if this surge of popularity reflects an extended fad. Only the coming years will be able to dictate which is the right answer, but in the meantime, the food industry is looking at yogurt with a new sense of vigor and respect.

At this juncture, the immediate future looks good for the product and yogurt producers are attempting to meet and push demand even further. As Stephanie Strom stated in her piece for the New York Times, “Let the yogurt wars begin.”

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