Wisdom returns

As the pendulum swings back toward real foods instead of lab-created pseudofoods, Ancient is the new New. You can’t walk down a natural foods store aisle today without noticing the proliferation of ancient grains like quinoa, millet, teff, and amaranth, all gluten free and nutritionally dense. Thanks to meat’s questionable production and carbon footprint, vegan, vegetarian, and raw offerings continue to gain popularity among health food purists and mainstream shoppers alike. And in the wake of new research suggesting they’re actually good for you, eggs (particularly pasture-raised), potatoes, and coconut are enjoying a renaissance; even “butter is back,” The New York Times happily declared last March. “People today want minimally processed, simple food made from whole-food ingredients,” says Mast. “Our food future looks a lot like our past.”

Stories matter

Today’s shopper, perhaps more than ever, also cares about the story behind the food: who made it, where it came from, and how it improves the world. Research by Kansas City advertising agency Barkley shows that more than half of Millennials (those born between 1977 and 2000) use cell phones to make shopping decisions, and 37 percent say they’ll pay more for a product if it supports a cause they believe in.

“Manufacturers are realizing transparency is key,” says Mast. Just scan your phone over the QR code on One Degree Organics bread, and your screen will light up with a video about the farmers who grew the grains. Punch an ID number from a Gaia Herbs’ bottle into the Meet Your Herbs app, and you’ll find out how its ingredients fared in purity tests.

“I see the next phase as a ‘true food’ movement,” says Tawse. “People today not only expect their food to be healthy and taste good, but they also want to know it’s clean and produced fairly.”