On the one hand, we’re proud of the fact that the Roots conference gathers culinary leaders from all corners of the globe to The Chef’s Garden to discuss their work with like-minded individuals who share the same passion, commitment, and motivation to optimize our food system.
Let’s face it. We like being cutting-edge.
On the other hand, though, we’re thrilled to see that growing numbers of experts are listing the concept of food as medicine as a trend for 2020 and beyond—because we will accomplish so much more together.
Quick Check in With Google Searches
When we provided blog coverage for our Roots 2018 panel, we noted that there were 3,600 monthly searches on the term “food as medicine.” That’s 43,200 searches a year!
Well. Google data now shows that there are 4,400 monthly searches on that term, for an annual total of 52,800. Searches are growing, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of the food as medicine movement.
Delving into 2020 Food Trends
In TalkBusiness.net, a food consumption analyst listed four food trends for 2020, with each of them involving “Better-for-you and save-the-planet ideology.” The first is plant-based eating—not necessarily people who are becoming vegetarian or vegan (although that’s happening, too), but people integrating more plant-based approaches into their diets. Here’s more information about plant-based foods as a 2020 food trend.
The second trend listed is food as medicine, with the quoted expert noting how this is a key driver for people seeking out plant-based foods. Nearly one fourth of adults in the United States, the article notes, are on a “nutrition plan with the goal of promoting long-term health, but not necessarily weight loss.”
This is a significantly different approach to making foods choices, with the article calling it “a dramatic shift in the way consumers approach food and beverage choices . . . Increasingly consumers see food and beverages as a pathway to better health; this is more pronounced among younger adults . . . One in five adults manages a health condition with food and beverage choices. This doesn’t mean they aren’t taking medication, but that many first look at their food and beverage consumption options as a first solution before medication.”
A third 2020 food trend listed in the article is increasing attention on breakfast and morning snacks. May we suggest Jerusalem artichoke home fries?
The last trend is sustainability, a topic that we could literally discuss for days. But, since we’re focusing on the food as medicine movement in this post, you can find more information about sustainable/regenerative farming here.
Stealth Health Approach and More at Hospitals
According to a 2019 article in Food Service Director, increasing numbers of hospitals and healthcare facilities around the United States are following the food as medicine philosophy.
In one North Carolina hospital, for example, patients who qualify for the program are sent home with healthy groceries—an entire week’s worth. A large healthcare system located in Toledo, Ohio opened a non-profit grocery store to give people healthy options, while hospital dining programs sometimes have a teaching kitchen where they can show their patients how to make healthy meals themselves.
Then there is “stealth health” at hospitals where they are adding foods that are nutrition rich into meals and suggesting ways that people can easily substitute unhealthy ingredients with ones that provide nutritious value.
Here’s a quote that shares the value of food as preventive medicine. “Food is really the centre of nutrition and health and wellness. One of the social challenges is healthcare—the cost of healthcare. It is much better to prevent and keep people at the optimum of their quality of life versus letting it slip and having to start treating the disease. We want to provide solutions before the diseases start.”
And, before we move on, here’s one more quote we’d like to share, this one from a registered dietician: “Everything I was taught in conventional nutrition teachings, at a prestigious school, supported the notion that food is medicine. Yet medical schools weren’t teaching much of anything about food or nutrition. That was over 20 years ago. Fast forward to today. The medical costs of obesity and food-related diseases are sinking healthcare.”
So, what do we do?
At the heart of it all is choosing functional foods.
Functional Food Definition
We’ve recently created an entire, in-depth post on functional foods: what they are and how they can help with good health and disease prevention. Here’s a short section from our post where we share two definitions for functional foods provided by the Mayo Clinic:
This food goes beyond providing basic nutrition because of what it contains. For example, oatmeal is considered a functional food because its soluble fiber can help to lower cholesterol—a benefit that goes beyond the sheer nutritional value of this food.
The food was fortified in a way to add to its health benefits. The example they give is orange juice that’s been calcium-fortified for better bone health.
In short, functional foods play a key role in food as medicine—with these concepts dovetailing with a powerful concept we call Farmacy at The Chef’s Garden.
Farmacy at The Chef’s Garden®
“You can have flavor AND nutrition AND beautiful plate presentation. Farmacy = you can have it all.” (quoting ourselves)
First, a definition of Farmacy: At The Chef’s Garden, you never have to choose between foods bursting with sweetness and flavor and those that are very good for your health. Our fresh vegetables and herbs, microgreens and more are incredibly flavorful, visually appealing and brimming with nutrition. Healthy eating can, indeed, be a treat for the palate and on the plate.
We regeneratively farm fresh vegetables, microgreens, herbs, and edible flowers—with each of these being a deliciously functional food. And, we also put together boxes, such as these:
Optimal Health Box
Here’s a quick and easy way to see which farm-fresh products are available now.
More about Food Trends at the Roots 2020 Culinary Conference
At Roots, chefs, farmers, academics, food scientists, journalists, research and development experts, and general consumers gather together in an inspiring environment to examine ways to collectively contribute to the efforts currently underway to enhance the way we farm, cook, eat, shop, analyze data, and conduct research. Not surprisingly, people on panels and those who attend typically have plenty of insights into today’s food trends.
If you’ve attended before, we’re looking forward to seeing you again! If you’ve never been, then there’s an important person who is missing: you.
Here’s what has taken place at past Roots culinary conferences. You can find plenty of Roots coverage on our blog, too. The Roots 2020 culinary conference will take place this year from September 20-22 at the Culinary Vegetable Institute.
Please stay tuned! More information will be available soon.