"Health food makes me sick."
So said Calvin Trillin, humorist, author and writer for the New Yorker. It isn't clear when Trillin made this quip, but in the early days of the health-food movement, he wasn't far from the truth. In the gourmet-food world, where I resided professionally for the past seven years, discerning palates eschewed any notion that healthy food could actually taste good.
The mantra was taste trumps health and our waistlines confirmed it. In this new century, good taste and health share not only the same sentence, but also the same plate. So why the change of heart? Globally sourced ingredients woke up the American palate, and better yet, scientific underpinnings lifted ingredients no one had ever heard of to superfood status. Think of açai, lychee and quinoa as examples (see Mark Tallon's article on flavanols for the most current research on the health properties of these so-called superfoods).
This month, Peter Rejcek looks at the important role of the flavour industry and new product development (Business Strategies).
The million-dollar question on the minds and tongues of the natural-flavours industry will be, "What is the next 'it' ingredient? Fi has its own predictions — have you ever heard of the Baobab tree, a thick-trunked bonsai-looking tree from Madagascar, India and Australia? The tree's fruit, called monkey bread, is known for making juices and a dried sweet-and-sour candy. As for health properties, the oil is rich in omega-3s, 6s and 9s, and the fruit is loaded with fibre, vitamin C and calcium. Time will tell if our hunch is correct.
When I left New Hope Natural Media in 2001, as the director of internet content with Healthwell, the natural-products industry was maturing from adolescence status to adulthood. At the time the hot topic was Good Manufacturing Practices. As I settle into my first few months at Functional Ingredients, one might think that time has stood still as the topic is still GMPs, though much has happened in the interim that proves the industry is on the right track toward high-quality ingredient sourcing and accountability. As the year progresses, I look forward to hearing your opinions on this and many other issues.
Kimberly Lord Stewart