GREEN HOT™ – “I find security in being green.”™

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n today’s fast-paced, hyperconnected and constantly changing world, we naturally seek shortcuts that maximize our limited time. In our rush, we often neglect—or completely forget—the simple act of eating, one of the basic fundamentals of survival. The truth is, it is hard to eat healthy meals when we’re busy. Researching and preparing the best possible fuel for our bodies takes time, and the flood of available nutrition information can be complicated, overwhelming and contradictory. Convenience doesn’t always mean that we’re following our moral standards or even what is good for our body, and consumers are searching for ways to find convenience while also still satisfying their needs.

Many consumers don’t know what to buy, where to shop for it or how to make it. They need nutrition, yet they crave convenience. A solution to this conundrum may be food delivery—but not always the fast-food or delivery variety. Imagine healthful frozen meals arriving at the door, packaged to the correct portion sizes and tailored to accommodate individual dietary preferences and restrictions. Imagine food prepared with transparent standards, so consumers know exactly what they’re getting. It’s frozen directly from the reliable chef’s kitchen and frozen until it’s delivered to the consumer’s doorstep.

Granted, few people equate frozen dinners with healthy eating. After all, such meals are traditionally loaded with preservatives, nitrates and sodium. But perhaps it’s time to look past grocery store boxed dinners, with their outdated preparation technology and lax nutrition standards. With advances in technology, frozen food may soon shed its stigma and emerge as a fresh and appealing option for consuming seafood, produce and more.

I recently spoke with Monica Klausner about her company, Veestro, a business she founded with her brother Mark Fachler. Veestro delivers organic, plant-based meals to the doors of overworked, overscheduled customers.

The first thing I wanted to asks was what inspired her to use only plant-based and organic foods.

“Think about a car—putting in clean gas versus dirty gas,” she says. “When you put clean in, the engine functions better.”

Klausner says this plant-based and nutrient dense system gives her more energy, healthier skin and an improved sense of wellness. As an added bonus, she says, she has an increased feeling of fullness, so she eats less.

To Klausner, healthy eating isn’t about following a fad diet. She sees it as a lifestyle—with moral, as well as physical, implications. It’s a matter of choosing sustainable and clean food products that have a positive impact on both the body and the environment. We don’t just eat for our bodies anymore, but we also want to eat knowing how it’s going to effect the world outside of our body, and for the future generations. In today’s high-stress world, confidently making right choices can bring peace of mind and a welcome sense of balance. Finding the perfect holistic lifestyle can add to the balance that the modern consumer is seeking within what they eat and the impact on the environment.

As attitudes and food trends evolve, grocery stores might become a relic of the past. With the growing popularity of organic gardening, nutrition-focused food delivery businesses and apps that make it possible to stock up on groceries with the swipe of a smartphone or tablet, consumers have more food options than ever before. Consumers are discovering that these modern movements of technology are not only giving them more time, but also allowing consumers to let companies do certain steps for them to maximize our time.

But today’s shoppers and diners are no longer satisfied with simply maximizing their time. Some millennials, who often mistrust non-transparent companies, want to control their environment and grow or choose food on their own terms; they even want to control what is exactly on their food. Even fast food restaurants like McDonalds are implementing the Create Your Taste program to give consumers complete control. While the mainstream solution is to buy all of your groceries at a store and do your cooking and meal planning for a week at home – more companies like Veestro are popping up to satisfy the lack of trust and need for healthy food, while listening to the need of maximizing time.

Companies like Veestro can cater to individual diets—preparing meals that are vegan or gluten-free, for instance. However, Klausner insists she isn’t a proponent of fad diets. Instead, she believes healthy eating is about achieving balance.

“Going vegan can be intimidating and can define you in an exclusive niche,” Klausner says. “Veestro doesn’t want people to feel that way. We want people to eat plant-based diets, but also eat meat a few days a week to find their own personal balance.”

This balance comes from eating a variety of nutrients, flavors and proteins, according to Klausner. It also comes from making peace with food by reaching for options that are healthier, easier to obtain and better for the environment.

“It doesn’t matter whether you eat dairy, carbs or meat, as long as there is balance within the intake,” Klausner says.

One new dietary trend, the flexitarian model, involves eating a vegan or vegetarian diet for the majority of the week, then taking a day off to consume meat proteins, dairy products and other restricted foods. It adds to the thought of finding the balance with what we eat. It is important to eat nutrient dense food, but it’s also important to add a variety of different nutrients. The flexitarian model is gaining popularity because it gives people freedom to eat what they want, but also restricts what they’re eating to a particular amount of days. It can almost be compared to the Cheat Day dieting, but it still focuses on making sure what we’re putting in is delicious and good for you.

Behaviors and needs constantly change, and the pursuit of balance in what we eat and how we manage our time never ends. Whether the balance we seek comes through a flexitarian diet, a meal delivery system like Veestro’s or a backyard garden, food that inspires better living is increasingly bringing people to the table – no matter how it is prepared and how it gets there. In the end, it doesn’t matter as long as we find that balance within what we eat and how we feel about what we are eating.

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