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Dietary changes that will benefit smaller food producers

Boomer driven trends will favour local, healthy products

By STAN POTRATZ

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The following item first appeared in Premier1Supplies’ on-line newsletter. It is reprinted with permission.

A bold prediction: An increasing percentage of the meals eaten in the coming years will:
? Be smaller than they are now
? Include more locally grown food (vs. that from industrial agriculture)
? Contain more vegetables
? Have less sugar
? Be less likely to include a large meat entree such as steak, hamburger, pork tenderloin, etc.)
What’s my basis for this, given the overwhelming evidence that folks are doing just the opposite right now?
The trend-setting baby boomers began turning 65 on Jan 1. As folks age (I speak as one of them as I became 65 last year) their dietary preferences change because:
? The future (declining health, retirement homes and death) can no longer be ignored. So steps likely to extend their healthy years begin to weigh heavily into their choices. That means fewer soft drinks, less alcohol, fewer fatty foods, more vegetables and smaller portions.
? They want something different — one reason they are so keen to travel in retirement. The foods they ate previously, hamburgers, pizza, big steaks/tenderloins and slabs of chicken or turkey, may still taste good but it bores them. “Been there done that,” is a common phrase for these folks.
? They can afford more expensive food choices. I know the recession damaged many folks’ retirement funds but many are still well heeled and their kids, now age 25-40, are no longer as dependent upon them. So when they eat at restaurants and when they buy food from stores, taste, health and perceived quality matter more and price less.
Taste buds decline in capability with age. So the search for flavoursome food (often associated with smaller portions) will increase.
For every action there is always a reaction. The obesity epidemic and the food choices that have produced it will, in time, produce an opposing response. We can expect an increasing percentage of people will quietly increase their resolve to eat less, eat better and exercise more. ??This reactive trend will appear first in the areas in which a higher percentage are more educated and more affluent. ??
Example? In late April I was on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts (for a farm event not a vacation) for two days. My hosts took me out to breakfast. The little restaurant’s ambiance was ordinary and the prices not that high (it was off season). But the portions were noticeably smaller than breakfasts offered in 99% of Iowa restaurants. The flavour was excellent. Much of the food was both locally sourced and attributed.
The costs of the obesity epidemic will become ever more clear. Expect taxpayers to pressure the government to take more active steps to prevent it — just as was done for smoking. As with smoking the producer groups whose foods most contribute to obesity and excess weight will oppose it, and they are well organized and well-financed. But over time, the huge cost to the taxpayer to fund the costs of obesity and excess weight will force the government’s hand. Already there is talk of a tax on sugar-laden drinks. That’s the thin edge of a long-term trend.
So who will be the winners?
Folks who produce quality food and sell it locally in stores and farmer’s markets.
Sheep (I’m biased here) and goat producers, because the smaller meat cuts that they offer have for decades suffered in competition with pork, beef, chicken, and turkey. This will gradually change-particularly for those producers who focus on increasing the eating quality of their lamb and chevon (goat meat).