Why we fear the food we eat?

Jack Bobo is the CEO of Futurity, a food foresight company that helps brands get ahead of trends so they don’t get run over by them. Futurity leverages insights in food technology, consumer attitudes and consumer trends to deliver meaningful results for our clients. Jack is a regular speaker on global trends in agriculture, consumer perceptions of risk, science communication and the art of networking.

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PRESERVATIVES, artificial food colorings, gluten, and more… the grocery store aisle can be a scary place these days. It seems like there are new stories from social media influencers every day about potent food additives or ingredients that will either kill you or make you live forever. Despite what we hear in the media and find in our Facebook feed about the dangers that lurk behind the label, the fact is that our food has never been safer than it is today. Why is it then that consumers have never been more worried about the foods they eat? And here’s another paradox: At a time when consumers have never known more about nutrition, why is it that obesity is at an all-time high? In November 2018, I took to the TEDx stage in Tysons Corner, Virginia to explore these important topics in my talk, “Why we fear the food we eat.”

The rise of “clean eating” and the marketing of “natural” foods has not made us feel safer. Instead, these trends leave us less certain and less confident in the food choices we make. The proliferation of new diets isn’t making us healthier, it’s just making us more confused.

According to a survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), consumers consider making healthy food choices harder than doing their taxes. In an environment like this, what is a consumer to do? How can we sort through all this alarming noise, reduce food anxiety, and make good diet choices that will give us the healthy lifestyle we all want to enjoy?