Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Trend Is Your Friend

I have this somewhat useless talent of being able to pick up on food trends. I couldn’t tell you the next big fashion statement, or the next hot song, or the way the stock market will go, but if you want to know about where the future of food is headed, I’m your gal.

Back in the day I predicted the passion with protein, the fetish with fat-free, and the curb of carbs. More recently I predicted the organic obsession, the local lure, and the kale craze.

What can I say? Some people read palms; I foresee food fads.

When I became vegan in 2004, the people who even knew what that word meant (and there weren’t many of them) thought I had lost my mind. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked, “But where will you get your protein from?”… Or, worse yet, the people who didn’t say anything and just stopped talking to me, muttering “freak” under their breath as they headed for the nearest burger joint.

Being a social outcast didn’t faze me much. A vegetarian for twenty years prior to that, I was used to the absurd questions and comments that people felt compelled to share simply because I didn’t eat animals. Plus, I had just read Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” followed by T. Colin Campbell’s “The China Study,” and that re-affirmed what I already knew almost twenty years prior when I experimented with the diet plan in Dean Ornish’s “Eat More, Weigh Less.” Not only was there no reason to eat animals, but research has proven time and time again that NOT eating animals is a healthier way to live.

But I digress…

This post really isn’t about whether or not to be a carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, or chocolateivore (I made that last one up… all blog posts should mention chocolate at least once). This post is about food trends.

I usually shop at Whole Foods, simply because there are so many wonderful options for me there. Where else can I get a gourmet meal, complete with a fresh salad, a savory hot bar, steaming soup, and some vegan chocolate mousse to top it off (remember, all blog posts should mention chocolate at least once)? But today, it just so happens that another grocery store was on my way home. And, since we only needed a few things, I figured I’d run in there. It had been a while since I shopped at a grocery store besides Whole Foods, and I was pleased with what I saw.

First of all, the “natural foods” section was packed. And I mean, packed! I bonked my cart into someone else’s cart at least half a dozen times. (Although I am great at choosing healthy foods, I’m not so good at cart driving). Next, I noticed that the produce section was bursting with some great-looking, and sometimes organic (!) produce. And better yet, people were buying it! The coffee bar in the store had soy milk. SOY MILK! And, to top it all off, they even had a section for gluten-free products... it was tiny, but it was there! What a beautiful sight!

Nowadays, people don’t sneer too much when I tell them I’m vegan. Sometimes I even run into people who tell me they’re vegan, too. I send my kids to a school that serves only vegetarian lunches… and guess what?! Other parents send their kids there, too! And they LIKE, or at least DON'T MIND, the fact that the lunches are vegetarian. Even better… there’s a waiting list to get into this school! I’m telling you… this didn’t happen seven years ago in my part of the world. I’m no longer an outcast. I’m almost… dare I say it… normal!

Even for people who aren’t vegetarian (and I still love you), the trend is moving in a healthier direction. Everyone is eating more vegetables, fruit, and unprocessed foods. Thanks to national television shows like “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” “The Dr. Oz Show,” and countless shows on the Food Network, people are becoming educated on healthy, sustainable foods. Authors like Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser are on the best-seller list. “Food, Inc.” and “Supersize Me” are blockbuster films. Everybody’s catching the sustenance subway, and everyone will benefit from that ride.

So what’s next? Here’s my prediction… the future isn’t only about what we eat. The future is about how we live. Being a junk-food vegan, living off of Doritos and Coke, isn’t where it’s at. The future of food will be about health and harmony. Are we eating sustainably? Are we wasting less? Are we embracing quality over quantity? Are we eating real food that is created by nature and not in a factory? Are we treating food as medicine, recognizing that it has the power to make us sick… or not? Are you ready to ask yourself those questions? The answers could shape your future.

Food is not just food. It’s culture and wellness. It’s health and happiness. I believe that as our food choices improve, our communities in general will be more peaceful, our citizens will live longer and better, and our priorities will shift. We’ll choose people over principles, kinfolk over cash, and giving over greed. We’ll not only add more years to our lives, we’ll add more life to our years.

A pipedream? Maybe. But the trend is my friend. I haven’t been wrong yet.


  1. I love the observation, plus I will take your recommendation to put chocolate into my next blog post.

    Although I still eat chicken, turkey and fish, I eat a lot of veggies, complex carbs and my favorite store to shop in is Whole Foods and Trader Joe's both of which are really close to me.

    I do agree that major supermarket chains have taken note of healthy eating trends and increased this segment in their larger stores. It's all about the money.

  2. Ronni - I too have been quite pleased with the availablity of vegan ingredients at my local Wegmen's, Giant and while temporarily residing in OCNJ - a Shop Rite. I just went shopping to stock our kitchen on Sunday and was able to find all but one ingredient for a few pending recipes... pretty sweet! We vegans may still feel lonely occasionally but you raise a very good point that my long time vegan soldiers can verify - it is MUCH easier being green and vegan today. Btw, love the chocolate mousse at Whole Foods! Still trying to duplicate that one ;-)