Why are healthy foods so unpopular?

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1
Joined Aug 31, 2021
As a chief I am always conflicted and feel responsible when people even in family have bad eating habits or can just not eat healthy. Unhealthy food makes fast money but nothing compares to good health. How do I make money when healthy food is so unpopular?
 

phatch

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Staff member
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Joined Mar 29, 2002
Don't bill it as healthy and make it delicious. People for whom healthy food is a criterion will recognize it when they see it. The rest of the consumers want taste and value.

Deliver taste and value and the healthiness can come along for free.
 
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
There was an interesting discussion about this issue, indirectly, on the Chef's Table episode about Enrique Olivera, the Mexican genius. He was talking about how real tacos, the ones that Mexicans grow up with and love, made at street stalls and the like, always extend flavor with fat. (Carnitas are obviously a good example here.) He wanted to come up with ways to deliver fantastic flavor without, as he put it, "going to fat." It ultimately involved a lot of hard thinking about what makes real tacos work, the ways they balance flavors and tastes and textures, etc. Not quite what you're asking, but in my view relevant.

Also relevant here, though perhaps less productive, are the many times that in their various TV cooking shows, Jacques Pepin and Julia Child clashed about the issue of health. Child would always say, "we don't care about that, we only care about flavor." Pepin would always say, "Sure, but if you can have both, you should."

Unfortunately, in the US and UK at least, "comfort food" as a category has generally come to mean lots of fat and such: huge quantities of bacon mac-and-cheese, cut in blocks and deep-fried, etc. I think about how in Japan, real hard-core comfort food usually means nimono, which is basically vegetables and maybe a little fish braised for a really long time in a soy-sake-mirin mixture. Kids grow up eating this in nursery school and right through until high school, and they associate the flavors with happy thoughts. Wish we had something like that here! (I'm lucky: my kids did go to Japanese schools, just for a couple years, and now that smell of that nimono braising liquid actually causes them to salivate....)
 
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Joined Jan 8, 2010
I suppose people going out for dinner like to go for something they really like and don't cook at home. Sort of "guilty pleasure"
So maybe they just eat very healthy every day ;)
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
Something is very wrong when junk food is cheap, and healthier fare, too expensive.
I grew up eating a combination of both but times are a lot different now.
 
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Joined Aug 31, 2021
I thank you for your sincere feedback. I wish I did not feel some guilt while cooking the unhealthy dishes.

This issue has really got me researching about nutrition. Maybe to help me be of more value to my clients and maybe eventually just be a private chef and offer services to healthy eating families.
 
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Joined Jul 13, 2012
It depends on what your definition of "healthy" is. For instance I cook with bacon drippings often, or schmaltz, but are they "unhealthy"? No - they are mono unsaturated fats and perfectly as good as olive oil.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
Convenience foods are cheap, ready to heat and eat.
Stouffer's has commercials on tv for pizza bread. You see the entire family sitting down to eat. Really? Pizza bread for dinner? Nothing else? It's a commercial to entice you to buy their product. Healthy or not?
 
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Joined Nov 9, 2020
Some of us old fogies remember when, by definition, "health" food was coarse, bland, usually on the dry side, and frequently with off flavors. So when you tell people (especially from my generation) you are making "healthy" food (and market it as such), people immediately think of unspiced, either overcooked or raw vegatables, coarse (and again, somewhat flavor-devoid) baked products, Small portions of meat or other protien, and raw veggies.

I was fortunate to get to do an unpaid inern gig for a few weeks at a fine dining vegatarian place, so I learned a LOT of tricks (far too many to list here) for making amazingly great and satisfying vegetarian and vegn dishes. The biggie is mouth feel and taste - without the animal or excessive vegative fats... building incredible flavor profiles using spices correctly, and having a hugely warm family feel about the place.

The other thing is they did NOT market themselves as a "Health Food Restaurant" but a "Vegan-Optional" fine dining establishment - they were always busy, and one of my more favorite places to take out of town guests... and blow them away!

BTW - as to what others eat? You don't have control over that (at least wihtout looking like a jerk)... you can offer to cook some great meals using healthy ingredients and techniques... when they ask how you made it, you can give them a rundown WITHOUT PUSHING THE HEALTH-FOOD ELEMENT. I turned on my family to my Portabella Goulash (mmm - haven't made that in a while, maybe I should hit the store... heh heh heh...), it's now one of their favorites, and they have no idea they're missing out on the unhealthy junk. And remember, You are making dinner, not making a political statement that way, and you never know when you will make a convert!
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
Eating healthy doesn't mean one has to go Vegan or become a vegetarian, although it's nice to eat non animal dishes. For us as Chefs it is truly frustrating when a customer has no idea you made that spaghetti sauce from fresh everything and they taste bottles Ragu.
 
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Joined Dec 29, 2019
As a chief I am always conflicted and feel responsible when people even in family have bad eating habits or can just not eat healthy. Unhealthy food makes fast money but nothing compares to good health. How do I make money when healthy food is so unpopular?

you make money by selling what the customers want or you lose them.
 
125
52
Joined Jun 7, 2021
You make healthy foods, and use the French , Italian, or other ethnic names for the meals, making them sound exotic, and special. Presentation is also key. Also offer health appetizers, such as a really good broth, or consume to wet od looks spectacular on the plate, customers will be excited to try it. Something as health as a great chow mien, or or stir-fry, if it tastes great, and is presented well can excite. A well prepared chunk of meat, cooked properly, can be pared with freshly steamed veggies instead of fries, or mashed potatoes. Include veggies with lots of flavor, such as sweet potatoes, steamed carrots, with a touch of honey, Steamed summer squash (must not be overcooked) baked winter squash, leafy veggies, etc. Serve appropriate sized servings of proteins. Fish can be stuffed, and baked, rather than battered, and deep fried.

There are very good salads that require little, if any dressing. Use brown, or wild rice instead of white. Pearl barley can be used to make wonderful risotto, as can whole grains. Replace fat and salt with herbs, spices, and the natural food flavors. Use fresh ingredients.

Deserts need to be very good so that large portions aren't required for satisfaction. Think chocolate enrobed fresh fruit, or lychee fruit, melon salads.

What you are trying to do isn't all that difficult, but requires some planning, and knowing many cooking techniques.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
 
6
1
Joined Aug 31, 2021
Some of us old fogies remember when, by definition, "health" food was coarse, bland, usually on the dry side, and frequently with off flavors. So when you tell people (especially from my generation) you are making "healthy" food (and market it as such), people immediately think of unspiced, either overcooked or raw vegatables, coarse (and again, somewhat flavor-devoid) baked products, Small portions of meat or other protien, and raw veggies.

I was fortunate to get to do an unpaid inern gig for a few weeks at a fine dining vegatarian place, so I learned a LOT of tricks (far too many to list here) for making amazingly great and satisfying vegetarian and vegn dishes. The biggie is mouth feel and taste - without the animal or excessive vegative fats... building incredible flavor profiles using spices correctly, and having a hugely warm family feel about the place.

The other thing is they did NOT market themselves as a "Health Food Restaurant" but a "Vegan-Optional" fine dining establishment - they were always busy, and one of my more favorite places to take out of town guests... and blow them away!

BTW - as to what others eat? You don't have control over that (at least wihtout looking like a jerk)... you can offer to cook some great meals using healthy ingredients and techniques... when they ask how you made it, you can give them a rundown WITHOUT PUSHING THE HEALTH-FOOD ELEMENT. I turned on my family to my Portabella Goulash (mmm - haven't made that in a while, maybe I should hit the store... heh heh heh...), it's now one of their favorites, and they have no idea they're missing out on the unhealthy junk. And remember, You are making dinner, not making a political statement that way, and you never know when you will make a convert!
I agree the resistance could be more in the naming..informative!
 
6
1
Joined Aug 31, 2021
I thank you for your sincere feedback. I wish I did not feel some guilt while cooking the unhealthy dishes.

This issue has really got me researching about nutrition. Maybe to help me be of more value to my clients and maybe eventually just be a private chef and offer services to healthy eating families.
 
125
52
Joined Jun 7, 2021
Soups cab be very healthy, and aren't called heath food. Think legume rich soups such as Dahl, lentil soup, New England Boiled Dinner, Chili, Italian White Bean Soup, Canadian Pea Soup, Split Pea Soup,, etc. And then there are tomato based soups, like tomato basil, Manhattan Clam Chowder, Vegetable Soup, Tomato with shrimp, clams, scallops (whatever seafood you want to throw in, Bisques, etc. And don't forget Bouillabaisse, a French, fish/stew soup. Healthy doesn't have to be bland, boring food. Salads, are also very healthy when prepared properly, and with healthy dressings. Simply stay away from too much salt, fat, and starches. Bake, roast, grill over fire, rather than frying. Steam rather than bil. Use whole grains.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind if the North.
 

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