28 October 2015

Healthy food is becoming more popular, and this is amazing.

I believe we’re in a pivotal time for mainstream health culture. On the one side, obesity, heart-disease and diabetes are on the way up. Furthermore, the sentiment around the food we eat and brain diseases such as dementia, Alzhemier’s and autism, which are also increasing, is getting stronger and beginning to permeate popular attention. Worst of all, many of claimed that for the first time ever, the current generation of children may not live as long as their parents. If true, the prospect of life expectancy trending downward in the most advanced, educated, wealthy and peaceful countries in the world is truly shameful.

As terrible as things are, there is a silver lining. In response to all of this, there is more meaningful research and passionate promotion of health and well-being. More importantly, the truth about the damage processed oils, grains, sugar and excessive carbohydrates are doing to our bodies and brains are being more significant culturally.

Organic, locally sourced and produced, and seasonal produce are occupying greater space on grocery store shelves. In February, Forbes published some information supporting the growing strength of healthy food industries. The overarching reality found within the wealth of data gathered courtesy of a Euromonitor International paper - food and beverage identified as pertaining to health and wellness is vastly outperforming those that are not. Of course, the validity of food and drink being identifiable as truly healthy is a complex matter, but at least in terms of growth, people are demanding healthier food.

To build on this optimism, it may be useful to look at the struggling performance of the traditional titans of bad food. Mark Sisson of MarksDailyApple recently highlighted some trends in paleo culture. Giants in fast food McDonald’s is struggling internationally and trying restrategise with new menus, restaurant designs, menus and marketing plans as hundreds of locations close. Adding to the good news, soft drink sales have dropped every year for the last decade. It is difficult to read this CNBC piece without smiling:

Last year was tough on soda sales, which declined for the 10th straight year as consumers favor the healthier image of other drinks. Now heavy weights Pepsi and Coca Cola are getting hit especially hard, according to report by Beverage Digest.

The report, featured online by Fortune magazine, showed the total sales volume of carbonated soft drinks slid 0.9 percent from 2013 to 2014. Within that category, Coke posted a 1.1 percent drop in volume, and Pepsi saw a 1.4 percent decline.

Further still, if there’s one true testament to growing popular sentiment, it’s a random diatribe by a beloved celebrity. Recently, NFL legend Tom Brady, when giving an interview at WEEI, a Boston local radio station, decided to go off on the the modern American diet, implicating the food industry, calling out Coca-Cola, Kellogs Frosted Flakes and sugar as a whole as poison for children. Tom Terrific makes some pretty bold (and absolutely right) claims:

"That's not the way our food system in America is set up," Brady said of his own approach. "It's very different. They have a food pyramid. And I disagree with that. I disagree with a lot of things that people tell you to do. You'll probably go out and drink Coca-Cola and think, 'Oh yeah, that's no problem.' Why? Because they pay lots of money for advertisements [so you] think that you should drink Coca-Cola for a living. No, I totally disagree with that. And when people do that, I think that's quackery. And the fact that they can sell that to kids? I mean, that's poison for kids. But they keep doing it. And obviously you guys may not have a comment on that, because maybe that's what your belief system is. So you do whatever you want, you live the life you want."

At the end of the day, there’s still much more garbage out there than there is real food. But, while the knowledge gap may only just have turned in the positive direction after decades of misinformation and confusion at the hands of corporate greed, things are turning for the better. Of all the various and partially conflicting nutrition philosophies outhere, there's at least one unanmously agreed upon element. While we debate about carbohydrates, fats and dairy, and in the midst of the World Health Organisation linking processed meat and red meat to cancer, everyone agrees that sugar is bad - even Tom Brady. This is a huge win, but whatever the personal opinions are, people are caring more about the food they eat and what it means for their health, and businesses are starting to respond on a wide scale, and this is amazing.