The Consumer Shift toward Healthier and more Sustainable Food Choices

The 1970’s saw the emergence of increased reliance on processed foods, sugary beverages, and edible oils. Over the next twenty-five years, physical activity greatly decreased, too. Whilst these changes were well underway by the mid 1990’s, their effects would not become known until the inevitable epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and malnutrition. Environmentally, the impact was similarly staggering with production of plastic increasing exponentially. An analysis of different governments’ guidelines reveals that healthy diets are also sustainable diets. What is good for the environment is, typically, good for us. This is important because debates regarding healthier food choices often juxtapose the two and this fact reveals common ground. An example of the increased interest in healthy food choices is the booming popularity of organic food, having increased sales five-fold since the year 2000.

Acceleration

While the information has been available for some time, the average consumer does not tend to indulge in nutritional and/or environmental literature very often. That is, not until it becomes more pressing and urgent. Enter the Covid-19 pandemic. It is widely known that obesity puts one at a significantly increased risk of adverse outcomes from Covid-19 and that nutrient deficiencies result in same. With a highly contagious virus circulating, and obesity and malnutrition as prevalent as they are, it was only natural that interest in healthier food choices would surge. Among the areas consumers reported taking more interest in were: the gut health and immune function connection, plant-based foods, and weight management. It appears that our education about the virus has resulted in a greater understanding of our bodily and environmental needs. The virus effectively ‘raised the bar’ in terms of what most people consider ‘healthy’ to mean. While before, one may have ‘gotten away’ with obesity or malnutrition, the odds were less favorable with Covid-19 rampant.

Transparency

Even before Covid-19, a discernible trend had emerged among consumers: a desire for transparency. Consumers increasingly want to know what is in the food they are eating, and where it is from. There is a call for shorter ingredient lists and less chemical names, emulsifiers, agents, etc. It appears that as consumers become more affluent, there is increased consumer concern about social and environmental impacts. The previously mentioned increase in organic food sales, for example, came partly from concerns about excessive pesticide and herbicide use in farming. Another key area of transparency is nutrient content: soil depletion from mass farming has resulted in less nutritious crops, meaning one must eat more today to get the same nutrients one’s ancestors were getting. This is infrequently mentioned yet is important so that one may take steps to correct potential deficiencies.

Conclusion

There has been a shift toward healthier and more sustainable food choices over the past twenty years. Healthier food choices are generally more sustainable food sources, according to most government guidelines. A desire for transparency is among the chief factors driving consumer change in the area. Covid-19 greatly accelerated interest in healthy, sustainable food choices, given heightened associated risks. More people are opting for healthy meal plan delivery to their homes instead of ordering fast and easy junk food, and the choices have become plentiful for healthy delicious options – especially since meal plans are catered to your tastes.