As we wind down for 2019, it is often fun to contemplate where we have been and where we are going on our food and nutrition journey. The research, as we have seen over numerous years of Dietary Guideline reviews, has corroborated a whole-food, plant-based, minimally processed diet that is low in added sugar, salt, and fat especially with regards to trans fat and saturated fat. DASH 1 and DASH 2 probably sum it up the best from our viewpoint. MyPlate is 3/4 plants: fruits, vegetables, whole grains!
However, consumers are not exactly aligning themselves to the DASH diet but they are closer than ever. There is a large Facebook group dedicated to "forks over knives," a vegan diet, and vegetarian-based foods are gaining in popularity. We counted numerous plant-based companies in the 2019 FNCE exhibition.
Consumers want flavor and convenience first and foremost but they do care about health even if their desires do not always match with science (gluten-free and keto/carb-free being 2 examples). We have seen the explosion of food delivery services for restaurant meals with GrubHub, DoorDash, Caviar, Postmates, and Uber Eats to mention a few. And Instacart and Amazon are offering robust grocery delivery services. Restaurant sales are up from the great recession days and will total $363 billion dollars according to the National Restaurant Association. Frozen food sales are increasing according to the Food Marketing Institute. We believe that convenience will always drive consumer desires and purchases.
Sustainability is a hot topic among all food manufacturers, stores, chefs, and consumers. There has been a shift from nutrition concerned marketing and product development to planet concerned marketing and product development. We have highlighted articles this year that shows sustainable and nutritious can be one and the same and can help save healthcare dollars.
The issues with food sustainability include many topics and challenges that will continue to be seen and felt everywhere food is sold:
- the production of plant-based foods such as protein items, kinds of milk, grains, desserts, and many more innovations. This is founded on the idea that making food for humans instead of animals to feed humans is more efficient and produces less waste. We have seen companies like Kind Bar and Impossible Burger explode with sales and success.
- the use of byproducts such as coffee flour, shrimp shells (chitlin), eggshells, or banana peels
- using versus wasting with IDP produce as well as the utilization of the whole animal - check out the IDP program by Compass
- planet-friendly packaging
- food recovery with food banks and many community services that feed leftover foods to the homeless
- lowering waste with recycling and composting
- utilization of sustainable ingredients and ethical farming practices
- energy efficiency and local foods for land use, agricultural diversity, and local food stability
- food safety and the avoidance of food-borne illness along with the waste that ensues from food recalls
The research with the microbiome fits nicely with the sustainability message because it emphasizes a plant-based diet that is high in fiber to promote a healthy microbiome or the growth of healthy bacteria. This is one of the most heavily researched areas of health and nutrition and will continue to be fruitful for some time.
Personalized nutrition is a hot topic now that the human genome is sequenced. We will definitely be reading and reporting on more research as it is reported.
Basics still prevail. Many Americans are not financially stable and Feeding America reports that over 40 million Americans experience food insecurity. This precarious world is held together by food stamps, food banks, and local charities. Many food and nutrition professionals work very hard to staff the SNAP programs and to help with food banks. They also educate people in WIC programs.
Chronic diseases still affect more than half the population. Heart disease is still the top cause of death in the US. Obesity/overweight is still over 66%. And Type 2 Diabetes affects almost 10% of the population and almost 35% have prediabetes.
Today's health professionals who educate consumers about food and nutrition have their work cut out for them. They have to straddle many consumer needs from chronic illness management and prevention to budgets, shopping and cooking skills, and sustainability. They also have to battle fad diets and fake facts. And their messages have to compete with billions of dollars with of advertising along with social media channels that lead eyeballs astray from the science. The research is always validating and fun to read but the statistics are very real. I think our American Diet infographic says it all perfectly!
We will be tackling all of these topics and more for 2020. Join us! Use the code TRY10NOW to join or renew.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.