When it comes to buying food, do we as consumers trust too much or not enough?
For me, having a daughter with celiac disease and multiple food sensitivities, plus my own laundry list of food intolerances and tummy troubles, trust around what we eat doesn’t come easily.
Starting about fifteen years ago, my mission has been to get as close as possible to the source of our food to see where it came from, who made or grew it, and to find out everything that’s in it.
In the beginning when we eliminated the adverse foods, even the slightest crumb of contamination would set my daughter into a tail spin – with tantrums, rage, vomiting, diarrhea, and insomnia.
Innately tapping my mama bear instincts, and out of necessity I became obsessed with finding and making recipes with only pure whole food. That meant cooking 95% of our meals from scratch. This continued for a long time as we worked tirelessly to heal her and my gut.
Fortunately because of that healing, in recent years cross contamination is rarely an issue for her, which has allowed me to overcome my orthorexia with our diet and trust more. Though, I will say I still keep a watchful eye, and more importantly she knows how to listen to her own body in terms of any reactions which aren’t always about tummy troubles.
Interestingly, we are not alone. More and more people are becoming aware of how food affects their health and happiness whether or not they have known allergies or food intolerances.
When it comes to trust, apparently I’m also not the only one who is squeamishly cautious around purchasing food. Realizing many consumers are looking to engage more with what’s in their food and are often skeptical of large companies, trusted choices has become a recent global trend with corporations.
Last week, I was honored to be on an expert panel at Unilever headquarters to discuss building consumer trust, a strategic focus of theirs. Speaking about food is one of the things I love to do, and this was no exception.
Realizing that I don’t buy their products and didn’t know a whole lot about the company, I decided to google Unilever the night before the event. Immediately, I was impressed with their initiatives in sustainability, health and wellness. As part of their sustainability plan and goal of meeting the highest nutrition standards, Unilever is reducing trans fats, sugar, salt and saturated fat in it’s products.
This is big. Maybe it’s not perfect. But these represent real substantial changes and serious efforts to build consumer trust with their health in mind. I have to say, I went from ignorant to incredibly proud of Unilever in a matter of seconds.
This was confirmed the following day while I was there. To one of the groups, I mentioned how impressed I was with one of those changes – the recent reboot of “I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter”. I elaborated on how happy I was that they’d eliminated the artificial preservatives and were using non-GMO ingredients, which was met with much appreciation and humble pride. One of the folks in the room, Ben, smiled and responded with his cute english accent, “Thank you. We worked hard on that.” He then shared with me how Unilever responded to consumer demand for the change with large investments in technology to make it happen.
Trust is important. Consistent communication and delivering on promises is key, but sometimes it also takes a leap of faith. I really didn’t know diet would be so transformational for myself or my daughter. It took a huge leap of faith pouring endless hours, blood, sweat and tears into it for years, and I’m so glad I did. I believe that healthier guts create healthier minds, and for healthy minds trust comes more naturally. Besides, trusting leads to freedom, and freedom is the ultimate achievement. So, let’s all try to trust a little bit more, what do you say?