A back-to-the-basics movement is upon the restaurant industry and it is driving demand for organic, natural and clean- label foods. From local, farm-raised or organic produce to natural ingredients, like natural sweeteners extracted from sources such as apple, agave and maple syrup, a new wave of consumers hunger for more simplistic foods.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 56 percent of adults say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers food grown or raised in an organic or environmentally friendly way.
“Natural and organics are on the rise with campus food service. Younger college and university consumers are increasingly well informed and are demanding these foods,” says Jordano’s Vice President of Sales, Mike Sagraves, who suggests restaurants and food service operators request a natural foods catalog from their Sales representatives to discover the wide variety of options available for chefs.
New lifestyles are trending to clean eating, too. But what exactly does this mean? Clean eating is food at its purest state, before humans intervene with color or flavor additives, preservatives or other unwanted chemicals. According to Clean Eating magazine, a publication devoted entirely to the practice, clean eating isn’t a diet fad, it’s a lifestyle that takes an on-going commitment and education.
For Calabasas resident, Fred Greissing, clean eating means a vegan diet. His commitment to eating organic, clean- label foods, he says, stemmed from a desire to live and feel healthier.
“I am far more likely to go to restaurants with clear ingredient information on their menu,” he says suggesting Rahel’s Ethiopian Vegan Cuisine in L.A. “Vegan restaurants are a good choice, plus the ingredients are inexpensive and as a result restaurants can make good choices as to where they buy their food.”
On his clean eating checklist of approved foods are raw foods like raw nuts, raw curries and young coconuts, along with fermented foods such as kim chi, raw sauerkraut and tempei.
Chefs don’t have to dedicate their entire menu to vegan or vegetarian items; clean label foods can still be incorporated into dishes and advertised on the menu for health-conscious customers. Jordano’s caters to this emerging trend with an entire catalog dedicated to natural and organic foods.
Solana Beach resident, Christine lenz, 31, avoids bleached flour products, prefers natural sweeteners, and always orders vegetable-based dishes when dining out.
“I eat to fuel, to nourish, and inspire my mind, body, and heart. Natural foods are easier to digest, they keep my energy more consistent and keep my hair and skin healthy,” says lenz who attributes her healthy lifestyle to how she was raised.“My parents were very health conscious, so it’s been an easy lifestyle for me to adopt.”
Favorite southern California restaurants that nourish lenz’s healthy cravings are lotus Café and ki’s in Encinitas which both favor fresh, organic items, along with the Naked Café in Solana Beach and the Seaside Market located in Cardiff.
“When I eat out I choose restaurants that specify ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ ingredients on the menu; it makes it much easier to make a decision,” she adds.
Enhance your own menus by adding a handful of vegetarian or all-natural dishes. A veggie stir-fry served over organic brown rice can be simply made and offers a healthy alternative for clean-eating customers. The more your menu comes clean about products or ingredients, the more apt customers are to making your food a part of their healthy lifestyle.