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Bye-Bye to Big Food?

Yale medical researchers David Katz and Samuel Meller’s declaration in 2013 that a “diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention” may have been the camel’s proverbial straw when it comes to consumer food spending.

According to a February article in Mother Jones magazine, “Big Food” is falling on hard times. For example, Conagra slashed its 2015 profit projections and fired its CEO, while other large brands reported similar moves.

While the author of the article—“Is the Junk-Food Era Drawing to a Close?”—writes that currency exchange rates may account for some of the drop, he posits that a shift is occurring in the nation’s eating preferences. Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison went so far as to say that the public has a “mounting distrust of so-called Big Food.”

While the past half-century saw a change from cooking to “heating
up” prepackaged foods, it also saw a rise in health problems related to highly processed foods. Could it be that consumers are now rejecting convenience for cooking from scratch? If the number of farmers’ markets is any indication, the answer is yes. Since 2006, the U.S. has seen a 180% increase in the number of farmers’ markets nationwide, while farm-to-table enterprises have jumped 280% since 2007.

Finally, in a look at the long-term eating habits being instilled in upcoming generations, school districts with farm-to-school programs grew by more than 400% between 2007 and 2012. It just might be time to dust off that cookbook your mother gave you.

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