After years of educating consumers about the benefits of healthy eating and watching as they experimented and gravitated towards more vegetables and fruits and less sodium and sugar in their diets, it’s clear that eating healthy is here to stay. Today’s consumers want to eat lighter; they also want to eat local; they’re inclined to eat less meat and saturated fat and they are moving towards more plant-based dining. When one of Toronto’s most respected chefs, David Lee, teams up with one of the city’s hottest entrepreneurs to launch an exclusive plant-based restaurant (see cover story on p.16), you know the movement is hitting its stride.
Even fast-food chains are slowly remaking themselves by promoting an increasing and pervasive use of antibiotic- and steroid-free meats, fewer preservatives and fresh, local ingredients. Now, after years of debate and discussion, chain operators are being forced to list calorie counts on their menu boards. Though it’s understandable that many of them resent this recent piece of legislation, sometimes it’s the kick-start tonic necessary to effect change. It speaks to mounting concern about the foods we are ingesting. With an increasing number of medical studies now proving what we eat affects our overall health, it makes sense that the healthy food movement will continue to gain momentum. It’s a reality not lost on suppliers. Recently, for example, Maple Leaf Foods — the Burlington, Ont., behemoth that has made meat the focus of its company for more than 90 years — acquired U.S.-based Lightlife Foods, a leading manufacturer of refrigerated plant-based protein foods for $110 million. It’s a move many would never have imagined a few years ago, but a reality based on changing demographics, growing ethnicity and a worldwide shift in how we view food.
Change is pervasive and continuous, but through it all, we are moving towards a more realistic and holistic appreciation of what it means to eat healthy and to be healthy —not just in terms of diet, but also in how we can live with less stress, how we can better treat one another in the workplace — and, more importantly perhaps, how we can treat our planet with greater respect (see The Green Report on p.26).
Increasingly, the pendulum of opinion is swinging toward balance and moderation. The hyperbole of the past decade, the yo-yo approach to eating and the sometimes nonsensical move to eliminate certain foods from our diet is being replaced by the reality that moderation and balance are the keys to a healthier approach to eating — and to life itself.