I am a rare breed of culinary professional. I started my career, like most chefs, working in kitchens. I have worked in fine-dining, country clubs, banquet, and many other facets of the industry, and went to one of the top culinary schools in the nation. What makes me different is half way through my career, I made the decision to be an R&D chef. You know…the ones that create consumables for corporate chain restaurants, supermarkets, schools, hospitals, and the military; the ones who blend their knowledge of the culinary arts with food science, manufacturing, sourcing, and consumer science; the ones who research recipes, ingredients, trends, and you (the consumer). It seems that lately, the food industry has been targeted due to the health and wellness of the products it develops and offers to the general public…but I am here to defend the food industry, and purpose an alternate way for the consumers in the USA to get healthy, natural foods. BUY THEM!
It is unfortunate that the real demand for healthy, natural food items, usually stem from consumers that already have a healthy diet. They may have loud voices, but this message does not translate into increased sales of ‘healthy’ food choices. Most of your top restaurant chains and supermarkets already have great choices in the health and wellness arena, (low sodium, low fat, low calorie, increased fiber, increased nutrients, etc…) but consumers find excuses not to buy them. Healthy food items are no more expensive than ‘junkfood’, are equally available, and can be just as convenient as traditional prepared foods. I have personally developed numerous ‘healthy’ food options that taste great, are affordable, and are easily recognizable, but you don’t buy them.
Although it is fun to play the blame game on the food processing community, it all boils down to consumer preference. Lets say as soon as I can eat solid food, I am on a steady diet of ‘fastfood’. Once I get to a place where I need to choose my meals, lets say a school cafeteria, am I going to pick the fresh organic salad or the ‘junkfood’ I am familiar with? In my opinion, as opposed to taxing ‘junkfood’, removing unhealthy food items from restaurants, a blaming the food industry for being fat, maybe we should teach ourselves to eat healthy from the start. There are a large number of consumers who utilize convenience foods in their daily lives, and are still considered healthy (me being one of them). Lets also remember that this does not take into account physical activity, portion size, and a balanced diet. Is the food we eat unhealthy, or is it our lifestyle?
What are some of your ideas to fight the health problems in America?
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