The past few days I’ve come across a variety of products and situations that reflect a growing awareness of consumer’s dissatisfaction with our food supply. It’s always encouraging when companies pay attention to their customer’s desires and start responding with better, improved products. Obviously they are doing it to help their bottom line, but it is still wonderful to see that people are asking for change and that some companies are responding.
Several large soda brands are now offering “natural” versions of their drinks. The “natural” versions use straight sugar (sometimes even raw) instead of high fructose corn syrup. A few that I’ve noticed are Dr. Pepper, Sierra Mist, and Mountain Dew. Sometimes companies brand these versions as “throwbacks”. Of course, even the “natural” versions of these drinks are not great for you, but at least they don’t have HFCS.
I am a huge fan of chocolate milk. Unfortunately, we’ve never seen any chocolate syrup that is HFCS free. Until a few weeks ago. Nestle’s chocolate syrup bottle proudly proclaims it does not contain HFCS. Again, probably not the greatest thing in the world for you even without HFCS, but at least the option is out there now.
My respect for Hannaford, a grocery store, has grown tremendously the past few months because of their latest line of “natural”, organic products. We’d been buying our ketchup at our local health foods store because it was the only place we could find that carried ketchup without HFCS. Then, lo and behold, a few days ago, I noticed that Hannaford starting selling their own brand of “natural” (every company defines the term “natural” different ways so be sure to read the label for exact information about what their version of “natural” means), organic ketchup without HFCS. It was half the price of what we’d been paying at our health food store. I also noticed that Hunt’s had their own version (non-organic) of ketchup that did not contain HFCS.
Most recently, I was waiting at a restaurant for some friends to arrive, and I overheard a conversation the chef was having with another person. She was telling the person that none of their food has any GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and she works with area farmers on a daily basis to source the restaurant’s food. She went on to explain how desensitized we’ve become to the true flavor of food. She said she had a customer complain once that the blueberries in the blueberry pancakes s/he’d ordered were not real. The chef knew they were real because she’d gotten the blueberries from an area farmer. She said that we, as a culture, have become so used to artificial flavors that we don’t even recognize or like the true flavor of real food anymore. My friends entered and the chef and her colleague left the room.
I admit I was shamelessly eavesdropping. I desperately wanted to talk more with the chef. I had no idea the place we were eating followed the practices described by the chef. It is not an overly expensive place to eat. They had typical diner food along with fancier entrees. I’d never seen it use its healthy sourcing of foods as a selling point/advertised in the community. After we ate there I did look at their website and found it does explain their sourcing practices. For those of you who are local to the Saratoga/Ballston Spa, New York area, the restaurant I’m referring to is Fifty South. It’s a great place to eat and has prices to fit just about every budget too.
Needless to say, I’ve been impressed by all the changes I’ve seen in our society’s marketplace in the few months since we’ve switched to more wholesome eating and living practices. All of these changes are indicators that there is an increasing awareness about the quality of food we consume and that people are (finally) becoming more aware of the what’s in the food they are eating and demanding change.