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Health food has had something of a revival over the past couple of years. It’s true that the pandemic has had consumers reaching into the snack cupboard more than usual, and a couple of stolen moments with a particularly rich and creamy chocolate bar has done many a stressed and overwhelmed Brit a favour over the past two years. But health – along with its cousins natural, clean-label, plant-based and free-from– is one of the biggest buzzwords of the moment.
Consumers aren’t just reaching for bog-standard fruit and veg, however – they’re doing their research on gut health and immune-boosting foods. And unlike the superfoods of years past (think açaí and kale), these exciting products aren’t solely focused on physical health; they’re also promoting a deeper sense of wellbeing. Shoppers are reading up on functional ingredients and botanicals like guayusa, which boosts focus and energy; ashwagandha, which relaxes the body; and CBD, which boasts calming effects.
It’s an exciting time for makers of boundary-pushing health products, but this movement also stands to benefit the artisan food sector, including makers of fine Italian delicacies and ingredients.
With more consumers scrutinising labels, paying attention to how the food they eat makes them feel and demanding products that positively impact their wellbeing, a preference for artisanal food and drink with a rich heritage is only natural. Because as well as choosing the best ingredients to boost our health, nutrition and wellbeing, we should also be considering how the food and drink we consume feeds our soul.
This is where the good quality artisan food – small batch and sourced from family makers – that characterises Italian cuisine steps in. The benefits of eating healthy food may be tangible, like fitter bodies and fewer health conditions, but traditional food which is good for the soul can go deeper. It has the power to spark a smile after a stressful week and offers links to the past through cooking techniques and recipes that have been passed down over the generations. While health food may be good for the body, Italian food is good for the soul.