Baby Boomers step aside – the Millennials have taken over! According to Pew Research, the number of Millennials (those born between 1981 to 1997 and the children of Baby Boomers) has surpassed the number of Baby Boomers.
Why is this important? They have a voice – a loud voice. They are making it known to Big Agriculture and Big Business what they want and don’t want in their food, and the big guys are listening.
What don’t Millennials want? Antibiotics, GMO’s, and artificial ingredients.
What do Millennials want? Organic, locally grown, sustainable food and animals to be raised in humane conditions.
Here is just a snippet of who is listening. Pepsi later this year is removing aspartame from their Diet Pepsi. Kraft is removing artificial preservatives and yellow Dye #5 and #6 from their mac and cheese. (The European Union has required a warning label be put on packages of food with Yellow Dye #5 for years). Subway removed the chemical azodicarbonamide that is also used in yoga mats and shoe soles (no kidding!) from its bread dough. Azodicarbonamide is just one of many chemicals allowed in food in the United States but not in the European Union or Australia. McDonald’s will quit buying chickens that have been fed antibiotics that affect human antibiotic resistance (this too has been banned in the European Union for many years). Chick-fil-A’s is phasing out buying chickens that have been fed antibiotics and ionophores. Panera Bread is removing additives that are currently in 150 of their ingredients. Taco Bell is removing some of their artificial ingredients from the menu, including an artificial pepper flavoring. Chipolte’s menu items no longer contain GMOs. Jackson County, Oregon challenged big agriculture and chemical companies in court and won, banning the growing genetically modified crops in their county. The state of Vermont prevailed over Monsanto and foods with GMOs will not longer be able to be labeled “natural” beginning in 2016 (more lawsuits to follow). Many of the ingredient changes involve dyes and artificial flavors. Whole Foods does not allow products on their shelves that contain artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, preservatives, or hydrogenated fats.
How did our “food” get so out of whack in the first place???? It appears some food manufacturers are more interested in manufacturing food products cheaply rather than making food that will sustain us in a healthy way. It seems every week another company is getting on the bandwagon. Is this just a big marketing ploy? I don’t know. While removing these artificial ingredients is a good step forward, much more needs to be done.
Not much discussion has taken place regarding foods that are still too high in fat, calories, salt, and sugar and are consequently making us sick. We need to keep moving the pendulum in the direction of demanding prepared foods be made with whole foods – whole grains, vegetables, beans, legumes, and fruits that our body requires to be healthy. Without adequate amounts nutrients that are found in whole foods, our body cannot do what it was designed to do – work hard 24/7 for our benefit to obtain and keep it in the healthiest state possible. Instead, it is using all of its energy to try to keep up with ridding itself of toxic chemicals we’re ingesting including herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, and artificial flavors and ingredients. In addition, we are assaulting our body with high fat, high cholesterol, high salt meals three times a day. Just as the body recovers from one high fat, high cholesterol, high sodium meal that also contains toxic and artificial ingredients, the body gets hit again with a second meal, and a third meal. Eventually the body can no longer keep up and wears down. It cannot fight off diseases any longer.
The torch has been passed from Baby Boomers to Millennials. Don’t stop what you’re doing Millennials. We all need to join together in voice and our pocketbook to demand more be done to move the pendulum towards healthier foods.