At Ketogeek, we've always converged from science to ingredients to recipe when we make our products. After a year spent conversing with leading researchers, experts and scientists in the world of food, health and nutrition, we got a very different view of the food industry, especially when we went to the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco this year. We had a blast there. However, being the skeptics we are, here are a few takeaway and deductions we made:
The food industry is definitely innovating and coming up with amazing products. Quite like last year, we had some new products such as cold brew coffees, drinks and various new types of beautiful food products that are making the lives of consumers easier, joyful and novel. The motivation and intention is there, which is commendable. All of this is encased in eye-catchy packaging and color schemes that are artistically crafted. The subtleties, craftsmanship and the narrative behind these products deserves a full coverage of its own.
KETO AND LOW CARB BUZZ
Unlike last year where nobody had heard about Keto, this year there was a buzz going around regarding low carb and keto. We were stopped a couple of times and a person or two would even know about Ketogeek which was admittedly flattering. It seems like the battle between the high fat and low fat is soon about to reach its apex in the food world as many food producers and sellers are moving to cater the growing number of Keto/low carb consumers. Many of them are still missing out on certain key elements in their product ingredients which makes their food not technically 'keto' but they are going in the right direction and we truly appreciate that.
DISPARITY BETWEEN SCIENCE AND FOOD
This brings us to the next point which is that there is a huge disparity between the world of health, nutrition and the food industry. The food industry science is stuck about 10-40 years in the past and hasn't evolved much beyond that point. Keto and low carb are still in its infancy as far as food products are concerned. It's rather difficult for food companies to make a full 180 on all their food products when they have existing infrastructures and roots in the high carb world. Even so, the world of science isn't the topic in people's mouth. Instead, it's more about...
We expect to find a plethora of such foods at every food show and we're a bit concerned here with how this will pan out in the Keto world as the diet goes mainstream. Food companies are monetarily incentivized to make delicious and tasty foods that get the consumers hooked(while at Ketogeek we are busy cutting down sweeteners!) The focus is primarily on maximizing the taste while still sticking to specific nutrition claims that allow them to be sold off as "healthy" foods. Consumers are conditioned to expect such foods with every new product that's made which puts even more pressure on food companies to continue upping the ante on trying to create cheaper, 'heathier' and shelf stable foods which turns food into artisanally and nutritionally depleted chemical cocktails. However, the foods are guised "super healthy superfoods" because...
NUTRITIONAL CLAIMS & BUZZ WORD PLAGUE
This has been one of our biggest pet peeves ever since we started Ketogeek. It all starts off with one New York Times best seller, a bunch of influencers or a celebrity book, doctor or nutritionist inspires consumers to eat food in that specific way and entrepreneurs to create food products that cater to such a way of eating. This leads to the creation of labels such as 'organic', '100% grass-fed', 'fat-free', 'all natural', 'heart healthy' and so on. People want quick ways to figure out whether a food company is ethical and health-oriented. We get that. However, when you delve further into the depth of such claims, the mechanisms may be unsustainable for many businesses and communities, offer diminishing returns, extremely pricey to enact(and hence a cost, you, as a consumer has to absorb as the product cost) and have very limited science to support them. Even if the science is there, it pertains to the context of the overall nutritional plan or diet the consumers are following on a regular basis. To exaggerate an example, an all natural, grass-fed, fat-free and low sugar cyanide cookie is still a "cookie" with "cyanide" in it. Above all, such claims totally negate the circumstantial limitations of the producers and growers who truly may also have bigger problems to deal with as an entire industry.
EDUCATORS & CONSUMERS COME FIRST
Most of the food industry caters to consumer demands which are created by the educators, writers, media outlets, bloggers and influencers of the world. It's a vicious circle that forces the food companies to conform to the words of such external forces. Knowledge and news is always changing(unless you're a carnivore, ha!) and there is always a new piece of information that creates a buzz word and explodes. That's how the writers, educators, bloggers, media and influencers make money: selling information and content and it's usually the controversial information that sells. The way to sell something is to quickly slice through your existing way of thinking, incite an emotional response and get people to "call to action". As we are creatures that love novelty and can get lost in a rabbit hole of information overload, we bite into this fear response and voila, we now need to buy into this consumer-driven social pressure and jump on the "buzzwagon". No one really gets paid to say, "Hey guys, everything is fine as it is!"
SUPPORT A COMPANY AND NOT A NUTRITION CLAIM
We think it's time we move away from nutritional claims and buzz words. We need to work towards supporting companies that want to help make this world a better place rather than suppress them with nutritional claims and buzz words as we may end up 'trading one evil for another'(yes, very cliche to say that!) This begins with consumers, educators and readers like yourself supporting and inspiring such companies rather than companies that jump on a bandwagon, create cheap and hyperpalatable products and monetize a trend that could potentially cost us billions of dollars in healthcare, lifestyle and welfare in indirect cost to the consumer. The food industry forms a backbone of our economy and it does require some pruning as the health of our country's people and across the globe is in jeopardy.
ASK WHY & HOW
This is very important. Before you adapt to a buzz word, claim or product, ask the simple questions of "Why?" and "How?" to pry the word and ensure it isn't just another headache to be added to life. Scientific literature is now at the hands of everyone's fingers despite being difficult to find credible and good educators. Be wary of bad nutritional science as we are seeing the growing trend of finding irrelevant scientific literature(we call them 'Buzz Articles') thrown away into the write up and since most people don't have time to check the cited sources or can't vet them out, they think the article is credible. As a side note, if you find a good educator who creates a positive change in your life, reward them! Become their patreon or pay for their time so that they can continue helping you in your journey. Some of the best educators are the worst marketers(you know that's true!) so it takes time to find them. Also, we urge people to understand the narratives of the farmers, ranchers and grass-root producers from within(preferably on personal basis) to make a better moral judgment on their choices. There is always another side of the story that gets brushed under the rug when we pursue buzz words and nutritional claims.
OUR PERSONAL CONCLUSION
To be honest, we've walked out from a lot of these buzz word marketing and have decided to create our own infrastructure under Ketogeek while many of us currently pursuing a carnivorous diet.
As primarily a food company, we want people to recognize Ketogeek as a food business that cares about their health and lifestyle. However, we want to be more than that. We want to be able to cherry pick what kind of foods we want to add to our products based on our own rigorous research rather than stick to buzz words and nutritional claims for the sake of capitalizing on sales which catalyze a charade of middlemen that constantly impede the growth and innovation of our company. For one ingredient, we may pick organic while for another, we may not. Then we want to look at the companies we want to work with if they are sharing a similar vision to ours. This is also why we regularly converse with the top class word researchers and scientist to help us calibrate and keep us on the right path of serving humanity. In other words, we do our homework, build bridges between science, food and health while changing the world for the better. This starts with all of us.
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