Kymberly: So there we were at the Natural Products Expo surrounded by more than 2,000 food samples that were either organic (translation — good for me to eat, so I really should) or “natural” (code for made without tons of created chemicals, unpronounceable ingredients, nor preservatives). In other words, Alexandra and I were in healthy person nirvana without tie-dye shirts or macrame necklaces. And, boy, did I find out that I am smack in the middle of a trend — several trends, in fact.
Yes, I am a demographic poster person for what is going on with North Americans this year and next. So who better to share the top trends you can expect in the healthy-ish eating world this coming year?
Alexandra is actually ahead of the trends in this area as she is a vegetarian who shops at co-ops and health food stores, and she cooks — from scratch. What is that all about?!?! So I kicked her out for today since I am you — the target market and next wave of the natural products movement. So close to making better food choices, yet not quite ready for the full transition. Move over Cheetos and hello organic hummus chips!
Stay with me for trend spotting while Alexandra is off baking something gluten-free, with whole wheat, no added anything, picked by hand by someone she actually met and checked in on.
Trend 1: From Fringe to Mainstream
The natural and organic market is no longer preaching to the converted (as in “hippies, alternative sorts and the überfit”). This niche industry is finally figuring out how to reach mainstream moms, regular people, cooking-challenged, “we want to eat healthfully, but who has the energy and time to read labels, check the source, understand the different certifications, and we are so comfy at Vons” type of shopper.
Have you found yourself checking labels more? Caring about where your food comes from? Looking for organic or preservative-free options more than you used to? Yup, you are a trendsetter, and these lovely people know it and are marketing to you. Natural and organic foods comprise 4 percent of the current food industry sales with that number having doubled recently. With your help and mine, this growth will double again this coming year.
Trend 2: Power Shift to Consumers — Thank You, Facebook!
Power has changed from the professionals to you and me — the consumer. Consumers drive the market and message more than ever before. Power to the people. Whoa, notice how that was so 1970s? If you remember the ‘70s, you weren’t there.
If you want more transparency from corporations about what they put in food, how they processed or fattened it up, then get ready to rumble. Consumers are waking up and wanting to know what is going into their bodies. Social media, general mistrust of big corps and growing awareness are fueling this power transition. Rise up and eat better!
Trend 3: Small Steps, Not Overnight Transformation
For we, the people (remember that I am not counting Alexandra in this category, by the way) to eat more healthfully, we need to take small steps. Apparently the natural food industry kept thinking that extolling the virtues of a vegan, organic, raw food, self-grown, all home-cooked life was enough to convince us all to convert. Well, maybe if they added some planetary guilt and hemp to the mix. Now they see that going from two to nine ain’t a’ gonna happen. But we can go from two to three to four and get healthier every step of the way. Sound like certain exercise advice?
Instead of sugary drinks, drink 100 percent juice … watered down … with water not from a plastic bottle. Eat at fatty food places one day fewer per week … month … quarter — and we include quarter-pounders in this advice. Switch out fruits and veggies covered in pesticides for organic and local ones. Shop at a local health food store once every four grocery shopping trips. Slowly and surely we can and will eat better.
Wake me up to smell the fair trade, organic, locally grown coffee, but I have yammered on long enough and not even told you about trends four through 10 happening in your local grocery store and belly. Come back next time, ya hear? Sneak preview teaser: The missing trends involve moms, kids, gluten-free stuff and buying to support causes.
veganism, vegetarianism, local and organic food only
, fine — I cut back on meat and eat fewer frozen dinners; Kymberly on a solo run. (While I was writing this, Alexandra better have cooked me something good, good for me and good for the world, or I will make her down a food not found in nature.)
Readers: What do you think was the No. 1 goal of women who were surveyed by the natural and organic food industry as to what they based their food decisions on? Tell us below, then I’ll dish (up something healthy).
— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A. You can currently find them in action leading classes in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.