Lee & I and the rest of the Paleo Treats crew will spend 2020 facing off against the giants of Big Sugar, and we're psyched about this uneven fight.
I've always loved the underdog, always rooted for the little guy, always loved it when they burst up from the deep with wriggling Victory clutched in hand.
Besting Big Sugar won't be easy. Nothing worth doing is. They've got the budget, the marketing labs, even the direct connection to your brain through some of the most addictive pathways known to humans.
Still, we've got a far greater strength; the might of right.
What do I mean by this? It's easier to start with what ISN'T right about the current state of food.
Don’t get caught up in the details or the exceptions. It’s not that sugar is inherently evil, or that honey is the one perfect solution, or that shelf life is the only measure of health.
It’s just that healthy food follows some general guidelines: It’s nutrient dense, isn’t loaded with sugar, usually isn’t shelf stable, and is made with ingredients that can be found in nature, not chemistry labs.
Healthy food is food that makes you feel good when you eat it. There’s no need to slam down a super green smoothie that makes you wince and pucker just so you can be healthier.
Healthy food makes you feel good long after you eat it. You sleep better, are happier, less irritable (if you’re at all irritable), think more clearly, and feel physically stronger when you eat healthy.
I’ve found that healthy food doesn’t usually have an “immediate” effect. For example, if I eat a modern candy bar, stand by for the hyperactive version of Nik within the next 5 minutes for the next 30 minutes.
If I eat a steak (or a Bandito), you just won’t see rapid and radical change. I’ll maintain an even stoke throughout the day, which is way healthier (and happier) than the rocket ride up and resulting parachute-less crash that comes from modern sugar bombs.
It’s OK to have dessert, just don’t eat it three times a day, and have it after you’ve eaten a meal.
It’s OK to skip a meal; you were literally designed to fast occasionally.
In general, that’s what’s right and not right about healthy foods.
Back to this idea of 2020 being a rough one for Big Sugar, and an excellent one for small food businesses. Lee & I spent the last quarter or so of 2017 talking with various potential investors.
We thought that we might connect with someone who could help us grow stronger in a healthy way, who sees the vision of real food being about a direct relationship to the customer without lots of middlemen and distribution centers. We went looking for someone who aligns with our vision of more than just product and profits, who wants to spread beauty, love, and joy to the world through food.
From organized venture capitalist groups to smaller outfits with just two people, we tried to explain what we see as the trend of real food with a generally short shelf life, a focus on nutrient density, and direct relationships between customer and producer.
It didn’t make sense to them. As mind boggling as this will seem in retrospect, the big money in food right now still wants to bet on shelf life, distribution centers, and lowest cost ingredients.
The oddest part was that each individual investor was making the changes in their family they were telling us weren’t going to happen in yours.
Each individual investor was making the changes in their family they were telling us weren’t going to happen in yours.
They were eating healthy meals at home with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet, they were focusing on buying and preparing healthy meat, and they uniformly loved Paleo Treats as both a dessert and a vehicle for beauty, love, and joy.
They just imagined that the “rest of the world” wasn’t as enlightened as they were. Sheesh.
That’s a long way of saying we didn’t find who we were looking for, and to miss finding them was discouraging.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that an industry will shift entirely in a year, but I’m certainly not going to throw up my hands and say, “Well, just because I didn’t immediately get what I want I’ll roll over and quit.” I won’t.
You shouldn’t either. You have power here, and it’s asymmetrical. That’s a fancy way to say it’s mighty powerful one way, and not very powerful another.
Asymmetry is how guerrillas win wars, how freedom fighters topple evil empires, how Margaret Mead’s “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens change the world.”
YOU are that thoughtful, committed citizen.
Your power is intensified and made asymmetric when you shop for health, not market efficiencies. Let me shift gears away from just the quality of food and tell you a story of what happens when you shop direct for health.
Trust me, it’s makes a difference to all of us at Paleo Treats every single time you put in an order.
If you’ve ever spent time with me, you’ll know that my phone rings the “cash register” sound when we get an order, and every time Lee & I hear that ring we do a quick “Yes!” arm pump. One more strike against Big Sugar!
Your power is weakened every time you shop from distribution points, aka large grocery stores. There is no celebration, no fist pump or high five when you shop for the lowest dollar dessert at [huge grocery chain.] You’re not even a number to them. Your one order is “sub-statistical”, as they say in the biz.
Sure, it adds up in the aggregate and they’ll eventually notice, but if you want your dollars to do good right now, to make a difference in the fight to promote real food, and to be noticed, shop directly with the people who make your food and shop for your optimal health, not your optimal bank account balance.
This is a long way of explaining why I think 2020 will be hell for Big Sugar. I think the aggregate of “shop direct for health” will create Big Change.
I think people are waking up to the fact that most pre-packaged foods from huge distribution centers with shelf lives counted in months don’t contribute to their health.
I believe that people are seeing that eating out at most restaurants is costing them far too much money and health. Whether it’s the sugars in the salad dressing, the quadruple price for the half quality, or the liberal application of MSG to spike the taste or an otherwise bland dish, you’re getting sick of it.
I believe that with the help of many Paleo (and other health oriented) direct-to-customer businesses, we’re starting to see the entire population make a shift away from cheap and unhealthy foods.
It won’t all happen in 2020, and there will still be plenty of health problems to solve 365 days from now. If we’re going to solve those problems we need to start now, with every purchase we make, and focus our energy and efforts on directly supporting the food businesses who are doing it right and actually working to build your health.
So that’s my 2020 encouragement for you. Focus on your health, make decisions that support the kind of world you want to live in, and together, as producers and consumers with a direct connection, we can follow our hearts and build the world of our dreams.
To health, beauty, and joy!
Nik & The PT Crew
Here's a quick list of companies besides Paleo Treats who are following the guidelines of healthy food sold directly to customers, we encourage you to support them!
Too much reading...
How about dessert?