Alternative Foods Hit the Mainstream, Providing Better-for-You Options

Alternative Foods Hit the Mainstream, Providing Better-for-You Options

Consumers today are making a notable shift towards eating cleaner. It’s led to the success of a number of small, artisanal companies with lofty values, and now, a wave of large brand names are also getting into the game, often by acquiring these smaller, innovative companies.

Carmel Hagan, Founder of Supernatural New York City explains how once trendy lifestyle changes like organic, plant-based, and vegan are now being adopted by larger shares of the market.

“The idea that we need to be taking care of ourselves through food is becoming more and more mainstream and that’s something that I think, at a baseline, is probably the number one thing that most people can do in their lives to have autonomy over their health,” she says.

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Food Labeling: Why You Need To Pay Attention To The Clean Label Movement

Food Labeling: Why You Need To Pay Attention To The Clean Label Movement
  • According to Simply Lyons, 58% of consumers read the ingredient list and 72% of consumers say they prefer ingredients they can recognize.

  • Papa John’s is spending $100 million to remove artificial ingredients from its menu, according to Simply Lyons.

On this episode of On Foodable Weekly: Industry Pulse, we’re taking a closer look at the history behind the ‘Clean Label’ consumer movement, which demands a “return to real food and transparency through authenticity,” according to Go Clean Label™. As identified by Foodable Labs, this is important because food transparency, health, and wellness are key factors to restaurant success now and in the coming years.

To learn more about what that exactly means for farmers, suppliers, retailers, and restaurants, be sure to watch the video above. If you’d like more information about the Clean Label movement, visit the Go Clean Label™ website.

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Fall Flavors That Are Sure to Keep Guests Engaged Through the Winter

Fall Flavors That Are Sure to Keep Guests Engaged Through the Winter

The weather shifts again and guests will soon be clamoring for all things autumn.

Higher octane and fuller-flavored brews paired with bold-flavored dishes that keep the menu offerings clean and satisfying, should round out seasonal menu changes.

The savvy guests visiting your establishment will be expecting seasonal flavors, prepared in ways that incorporate spices and ingredients from all over the world. Guests have moved beyond the American fall classics and are ready for your interpretation of a world-influenced fall dish.

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Only Organic and Clean Ingredients at green2Go in California

green2Go is a fast-casual concept started by two moms who were having a hard time finding healthy fast food that they felt was good enough to feed their children. After discussing their frustrations, Joulia Hantas-Kalah and Anita Allison decided they would open their own restaurant. Serving only clean, healthy ingredients, green2Go has created a loyal following in California.

What exactly is "clean" food? Anita explained what it means to them in just a few words: “Basically, it’s all natural.” Joulia added, "It’s real food! At the end of the day, we feel someone at some point has to draw that line, and that’s what we chose to do and how we opened in 2012.”

Joulia said some restaurants have tried to provide clean food, but they are often hindered by how difficult it can be to keep clean ingredients fresh because of their lack of preservatives. This leads those restaurants creating modified menus serving only the clean ingredients they are able to control. However, the green2Go duo didn’t want to change what people were eating. They simply wanted to make those dishes cleaner. So they took dishes like burgers, tacos, and rice bowls, and served them — just with better ingredients.

What do they use? Ingredients like antibiotic-free chicken, bread without high-fructose corn syrup, organic tomatoes, non-GMO corn tortillas, locally sourced blue cheese, and cage-free eggs. To keep their ingredients fresh, Joulia and Anita decided to invest in better storage.

“We’ve tried different things from getting lids that are always cracking, or plastic wrapping things as tight as you can get it, but still, it’s an imperfect world that we’ve created. But now we’ve saved about a 1.5 percent reduction in food costs just by being able to extend the shelf life of produce and not have as much waste,” Joulia said.

As restaurants start to turn towards serving better-for-you menus, Joulia and Anita are looking forward to the future.

“It makes us feel good because it makes our bottom line. It helps us afford our ingredients a little better now because the more people — supply and demand!” Joulia said.

Watch how this clean fast casual makes it all possible on this episode of "Fast Casual Nation."

How The Organic Coup is Cleaning Fast Food, One Chicken at a Time

While some consumers may believe fast food is a fast track to unhealthy eating, The Organic Coup hatched a new idea when it comes to chicken. This brand became the first USDA certified organic fast food restaurant, confirmed by their certifying agency, CCOF.

"We were shocked to find out we were first," founder Erica Welton said.

This concept was inspired by the team's years of working at Costco Wholesale, and the push for social change in foodservice became the foundation of the business. The name began as a typo for the word "coop," but "coup" was also fitting: coup is defined as a takeover, and that's exactly what this restaurant is doing — taking over the fast food industry with a new, organic attitude, proving that fast food has the potential to be good food.

"We want to serve the highest-quality product at a fair price," Welton said. "I'm also a mom of two young boys. [I'm] very passionate about what goes into my kids' food. Chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, and as a food buyer for Costco, learning more and more about what is getting put into our food — it was scary."

The Menu

Organic efforts could become complex, but The Organic Coup's operation is simple.

"We are not going to be a restaurant that has 50 items on the menu," Welton said.

The Coup Signature Sandwich is made up of chicken sourced locally from Mary's Free Range Organic Air-Chilled Chicken. The breasts are soaked in buttermilk, hand-breaded, and fried in coconut oil — honestly, the most expensive oil they could choose, but it is low in cholesterol and high in vitamin A. The menu also consists of a wrap and a bowl, and all buns are toasted and wraps are steamed to order. 

The restaurant also offers unique sauces, from spicy BBQ ranch, sesame ginger, mustard Vinaigrette, and more. Guests with a sweet tooth can also nibble on their organic popcorn, drizzled in caramel and with either white or dark chocolate. 

The Philosophy

More than about making fast food good food, The Organic Coup is about being good to the environment, too. Their chicken is air-chilled, a tactic used in Europe and Canada. Unlike the water chlorine bath method used in the United States, air-chilled facilities save 30,000 gallons of water every day.

The tables at the restaurant also have a touch of sustainability, as they are made from reclaimed wood (and were even built by Welton's father. All the restaurant's cleaning supplies and pest control are also organic certified. And to continue the education of their staff, The Organic Coup has a wall dedicated to going back to the basics, emphasizing the importance of non-GMO and hormone use.

"You know, I think it's very difficult to cheat Mother Nature, and in the end, there is always a price to pay. To disrupt such an old mentality on the way food was being brought to people just seemed like a lot of fun," Welton said.

Power to the chicken! Want to learn more about how this restaurant is rewriting fast food? Watch the full episode now.