The pet food world has been inspired by the theory that pets should eat as if they were still living in the wild (consider the pet foods Naturally Wild from Eukanuba and Wilderness from The Blue Buffalo Co.). This type of thinking is beginning to infiltrate human food as well, as some champion the idea of eating as if we were still in prehistoric times.
This trend may be influenced by the idea that our food has become too processed, too industrialized, and too clean -- stripped of its natural elements. Beyond slow food, wild eating goes even further back to the basics toward more simple -- and sometimes exotic -- foods that many consider healthier.
One form of wild eating is the Paleo Diet. The diet has been gaining popularity over the last year, taking us back to the Stone Age and possibly to the next hip eating trend. The diet encourages the consumption of whole, fresh foods and the avoidance of starch, processed foods, refined sugars, and dairy products -- eating in a way that is consistent with our evolution and genetics.
Based on the diet’s promise, last year in Berlin, the restaurant Sauvage, meaning savage or wild in French, opened as the first paleo-inspired restaurant in Europe, and in Copenhagen, Denmark, fast food restaurant Paleo opened this year serving “primal gastronomy,” as Chef Thomas Rode Andersen calls it.
Paleo-influenced casual foods are also hitting the market, such as Steve’s Originals snacks, which offer a suite of caveman products that tend to be a mix of meats, fruits, and nuts sold in pouches, sticks, and bars. Paleo Baking Company is another. Founded in March of this year, Hannah Bretz started the company inspired by her own need to eat for health. She is focused on baking delicious gluten-free, paleo-inspired products for people who have similar health issues as her own.
Other evidence of this wild trend is the growing number of people who forage for food and champion eating foods from times past. With its growing popularity, Seattle, Washington is developing its first urban food forest where foragers are allowed to roam and hunt free. Langdon Cook is one such individual, and he has a book and blog named “Fat of the Land,” in which he shares notes on rare, wild ingredients and suggests preparation techniques that have drawn the interest of even award-winning chefs.
If marketers were to take heed of the advice to seek passionate niches to identify trends and where to place their bets on innovation, you might just find one here. This wild food movement could be the next evolution of natural, organic, and slow food -- don’t just grow it, forage for it. Don’t just eat natural or organic -- get back to the basics of how we are meant to eat.