What does healthy mean anymore? In researching this month’s product development feature on organic food formulation, I came across an article that stated “better for you” doesn’t necessarily mean “healthy” - rather it could mean that a food product is made from higher-quality or organic ingredients.

This new way of thinking about eating “better” resonated with me and had me reflecting on a recent trip. A couple weeks ago my husband and I took a trip to a quaint town known for antiques and bed-and-breakfasts. As it turned out, our b-and-b specialized in gourmet, locally-sourced, (mostly) organic multi-course dinners and breakfasts. The food was amazing - fresh, creative and beautifully presented - but I don’t think that I could use the term “healthy” to describe the pancakes served with organic bacon and a (divine) red pepper and heavy cream sauce.

In order to get an expert opinion, I turned to The Hartman Group’s President and Chief Operating Officer Laurie Demeritt. The Hartman Group is a Bellevue, Wash.-based consumer research group that has completed several studies on the organic market.

“We found it’s pretty complex,” Demeritt says. “We’ve done a lot of work in organic and in health and wellness. Definitely what we find is that people are looking at organic for something that would be an everyday food occasion - not an indulgence for the most part.”

This means that most consumers are looking for organic milk and eggs and not organic pie and ice cream (except, perhaps, for those hedonists for whom pie and ice cream is an everyday occurrence).

“Something like organic truffles, they might say, ‘that’s kind of interesting and cute and maybe I’ll buy that as a novelty.’ But that’s not likely to be a product that they are going to integrate or adopt into their long-term lifestyle,” Demeritt adds.

So, it seems to me, the bottom line is a calorie is still a calorie - whether it comes from an organic or non-organic source.

Still, experts find the main motivation consumers cite for eating organic foods is health concerns. And I know, the next time I am standing in a grocery aisle deciding between a higher-fat, higher-sugar organic yogurt and a less fattening, non-organic variety, I will spend more time making the decision than I probably should.

Just the Facts

Fruits such as apples, oranges and bananas may helpstave off Alzheimer’sdisease according to a new study. Korean scientists say these polyphenol-rich fruits have been linked to preventing oxidative stress in neuronal cells - a likely cause of Alzheimer’s.
Source: Journal of Food Science

In 2007, wholesale foodinflation reached 6.5 percent for all consumer finished foods - its highest level since 1979, according to the American Frozen Food Institute's analysis of recent U.S. Department of Labor data. During December 2007, the index rose a sharp 1.5 percent, the largest monthly gain since March 2007.
Source: AFFI

Are healthy foods really more expensive? According to a recent University of Washington study, the answer is “yes.” Researchers found that the prices of fruits, vegetables and other low-calorie foodsrose 20 percent over the last two years, while high-calorie food prices dropped or remained the same.
Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association

According to a recent Technomic survey, life is sweet for the majority of Americans. That’s because85 percent of 1,500 consumers surveyed said they eat dessert once a month or more, while zero respondents indicated that they “never” eat dessert. And more than half of consumers, 57 percent, report eating dessert “very frequently” or “often” (at least once a week).
Source: Technomic