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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  1. marybarnhill says:

    You’re right. It’s not the food industry. They are in business to make money and that’s what they do. Consumers have a choice. One can eat actual ‘real’ food or choose to eat ‘man made’ processed foods. Nobody ate anything by accident.

    • chefman316 says:

      Taxing unhealthy food and beverage, or forcing them to be removed from menus is like putting a bandaid on an old injury. You need to change peoples eating habits from the start. Also, like I stated in the article, there are plenty of people who enjoy these processed foods, but still are relatively healthy. It would not be fair to tax or remove these items from people who are eating responsibly :o)

  2. Greg says:

    It is both – unfortunately there are still consumers who only understand the basics and many techniques used by the food giants are very sophisticated. The other thing is that just like super markets position items strategically to get patrons to buy stuff that they do not want so it goes with restaurant chains. I draw the line at schools though for there is no excuse for the crap being served for budget is really not the main driver and to your argument … how are people to learn good habits if they are forced to chose based on cost or the draw of sugar….. just look at sale of whole milk versus chocolate milk when giving kids a choice. I don’t think anyone blames the small outfits or just the food industry for let us not forget that the true drivers are money and market share.

    Good for you that you eat healthy – but look at all the over weight (FAT… god forbid we say the truth) kids out there that look around and being FAT along with drinking litres of pop while eating all processed foods is the norm – do you really think that they will change over night – is it fair to blame them after years of training.

    Personally I am more apposed to the waste that goes on and our group is working hard to provide 100% organic sources that are easy to access for low income families. Our systems process waste rapidly and require very little water or transportation to market. — adding a tax is very short sighted and only breeds resentment — like your view … which by the way I respect – at least you are willing to state it.

    Did you ever see Jamie Oliver and his attempt to get US schools to produce healthy food? Maybe taxing the junk food is not fair but replacing those in charge of the programs probably is ….. how can a fair choice be provided when you have those in charge who are completely ignorant or non motivated to make healthy choices … or worse .. think their choices are healthy because they meet some government minimum standard.

    • chefman316 says:

      I will have to say though…that if consumers increase the demand for healthy items, it would cause in increase in availability and production, which would drive the costs down, and make healthy foods more affordable. Unfortunately, you are right about money playing a factor, but if the demand for healthy items were actually there, supermarkets and restaurants would provide accordingly, and just like with any other product or item in this consumer driven economy, more production would mean more competition for suppliers, once again driving down price and increasing choices along with new innovation in healthy and wellness.

      I also very much agree with positioning on schools as well as finding people in the industry who are motivated and knowledgable. However, currently, healthy choices have been available at restaurants and supermarkets for some time, and to my point (and I think yours) that opposed to taxing food now and blaming the food community…these kids have been brought up with eating unhealthy by their parents, as well as no drive for physical activity. This is why I feel we need to change our lifestyle and knowledge of what healthy really is, as opposed to blacklisting food and beverage manufacturers. What kind of physical activity, do these ‘fat’ kids have? What kind of foods were they provided while growing up? Look at the average activity level of children from the 60’s compared to now. 7up and sliced Wonder bread were invented and mass produced in the 1930’s however our obesity problem did start until the 80’s and 90’s. In the retail market, there were actually plenty more healthy options in the 80’s and 90’s compared to the 60’s however our activity level as a whole have dramatically decreased. Athletes now a days actually say that chocolate milk is a great after workout beverage to replace loss energy plus the addition of protein. Michael Phelps can eat 10,000 calories a day which include french toast, eggs, pancakes, pizza, and energy drinks, but has an activity level to support this, which proves my point that it isn’t so much the food, but how we choose to use the calories.

  3. funmibadejo says:

    Rightly said, it’s a demand driven venture. It’s always easier to blame someone rather than take responsibilities for our health and what we put in our mouth.

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