Some say that restaurants that are catering more and more to a well-informed health conscious public is just a fad, but is it?
Restaurant owner’s, like or not, are realizing that they can’t ignore a growing segment of the population that is demanding more healthy choices on their menus. Gluten-free, vegan, farm-to-table, etc. are making their way onto menus across the nation.
At the National Restaurant Association’s four-day trade show that just concluded this week in Chicago it was a hot topic. More than 60,000 attendees and 2,000 exhibitors from around the world discussed how to incorporate more healthful food onto their menus in order to please an ever-growing savvy public.
Whether it’s a family-style chain, a smoothie shop, or vegetarian-style restaurant, the trend for all is the same. Offerings that feature Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, and incorporating whole healthy grains in place of white flour are growing.
In a lot of bigger cities across the nation this has been happening for a while of course, but the fact that it’s spreading to smaller cities and the Midwest singles that we’re on the cusp of a real shift.
The consensus among restaurant owners is that fresh food, something hand-crafted, and not food simply thrown on a plate is the number one most powerful driver of menus. People more and more and in growing numbers are demanding “the real thing.”
According to Jamba Juice, which at first was a little skeptical whether smoothies featuring kale would take off despite the current popularity of the green, say it’s really taking off. Susan Shields, chief innovation of Jamba Juice says, “Even though kale had become kind of mainstream we didn’t think it would go over well, but our Kale-ribbean Breeze is taking off across the board, “ and “It’s playing well on both coasts and in the Midwest.”
In truth only about one percent of the population has celiac disease. However estimates claim that as much as eighteen percent of the population is following a gluten-free diet. The gluten-free segment was one of the largest showcased on the trade show floor, where you could sample everything from pastas to pizza crusts, to baking mixes and cookies.
The bottom line is if you choose to ignore what people want, you lose market share. San Diego-based Healthy Dining who was present at the trade show offers a web-based searchable guide to restaurants offering healthier, lower sodium items. These restaurants have to meet company guidelines for lower calorie counts and fat content, and also feature menu items that have fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.