"Hey, when will Paleo Treats be in XX-Grocery Chain?"
Probably never. I'll tell you why:
LGCs (Large Grocery Chains) are dinosaurs, frauds, and so far from their original roots it’s like claiming that Albert Schweizer created the Nazi Party. They are scrambling to survive, the last wrinkled old dragons tearing at each other’s leathery flesh for a few more years of life.
Let me expand on those statements and I’ll also tell you how the world of fresh food will work within the next 5 years. Scratch that. 2 years or less.
First, the dinosaurs. There was a time in living memory when we didn’t have grocery stores the way they exist today. We had farmer’s markets and general stores, but nothing like the gleaming behemoths that blotch their way across America’s high end zip codes like little puffs of fungus popping up where money pools.
Farmer’s markets, stands, and stalls have always offered that direct connection between makers and eaters. The prices can be higher or lower than the store, but the quality is always better. They’re selling real food. They’re not selling real food because “real” is a gimmick, they’re doing it because they’re serious about food. Real food is what they know and are expert in.
The “General Store” has always stood squarely between produces and consumers. For decades they were a useful part of the economic fabric of life. Their main value proposition has been convenience; you can buy everything you want in one place.
By creating physical efficiencies, general stores (and later, grocery corporations) made it easier for farmers to sell their crops and for consumers to buy that food. Farmers only had to go to one place to drop off and sell their products, and buyers could meet at the same place. It was an economic fantasy come true.
As any economist will tell you, easy is almost always too powerful a lure to resist. The race for easy, efficient markets along with a physical network of buy/sell nodes forced real food to be perverted by the economics of scale.
The side effects of efficiencies can be devastating, and in the case of feeding America, the consequences created a threat to our nation’s well-being.
The “real” was removed from food, and synthetic enhancements quickly took the place of the old organic process of rapid breakdown. Food began to be protected by plastic wrapping on the outside and a chemist’s brew within.
“Shelf life” became a marketing coup. Not only were you persuaded of the value of food that lasted for more than a few days in the pantry, but grocery chains could hang on to sellable inventory for weeks at first. Eventually those weeks were stretched out to months, then years.
As food began to separate out into two groups, with real and fresh food in one group and heavily marketed edible product in the other, grocery stores changed their physical layout in a pattern that would be disturbingly echoed in many Americans.
What was once just an aisle or two of curiosities in the center of the store slowly expanded outward. Always pushing the freshest food to the edges, the doughy, never-dying middle morphed into a maze of marketing ploys.
Powerful words like “simple”, “organic”, “healthy”, and “whole” were paired with colors tested for the emotions they triggered. Clean whites with accents of light green and brown or tan evoked feelings of “naturalness” in consumers, and the organic marketing movement wriggled and thrived in an ecstasy of sales. The yellow sun and blue waters were dashed liberally across product that was food in name only, and barely digestible at that.
Disaster was at hand. Manifesting as symptoms from the consumption of materials and chemicals never meant to be combined or consumed in the quantities they were, sickness and disease struck at the heart of cultures thought to be immunized against all threats.
In a reversal inevitable though not at first recognizable, food became poison. Whether bloated with sugar or loaded with chemicals, grocery stores became known purveyors of sickness, disease, and death.
By that time, the powers of industry had hooked three generations on some of the most addictive substances known, targeting not just the cognitive powers of choice but twining madly into the lizard brain and sugar-demanding gut biomes of consumers.
The crave became the ultimate killer app in food markets.
At first the food industry tried to ignore their responsibility to provide healthy food, hiding behind the disgusting idea of “We give the customers what we think they need.”
Once they realized that customers were not satisfied with the clear majority of unhealthy choices available, the by-now massive food corporations colluded with manufactures and marketers to guide the waves of anger and desperation of sick customers desperate for health.
It was too late. The internet had arrived.
Through information now easily accessible directly from the producers, health conscious consumers began to realize that they would get the freshest food in only one place: At the origin. This accessible information was the first of the two great boons of the internet on the real food industry.
It used to be you could only get foods at origin if you physically went there; the old farm stands or farmer’s markets.
The internet provided the second great boon by allowing producers and originators to connect directly with their customers. This cut out the middleman of the “Big Food” industry that had grown its doughy middle from an occasional novelty into a nonstop cornucopia of sugar, creating a bloated cancer of edible cardboard covered plasticized product that covered 85% of the square footage of any given grocery store.
Connecting consumers directly to producers allowed producers to stay small, focus on quality, and serve what are called “niche” markets. In the past, due solely to the physical traffic that any given store would see, there wasn’t enough traffic to a store to justify carrying odd items. The oddballs, the niche products, the paleo, the vegan, the gluten free, were scattered throughout the country, never quite the same wherever you went, and never a sure thing to be available in any given store. The internet changed that.
The ability of a consumers to connect directly with producers without having to depend on the vicissitudes of store managers swayed by an advertising budget more than actual real food had begun.
Just as the dinosaurs never saw the comet coming that wiped them off the planet in an instant, the Big Food corporations are busy squabbling with each other over the last few scraps of capital while ignoring the massive disruption that is the straight-from-the-origin real food.
This is reflected in the massive influx of capital to the "fresh food delivered" space, and you're seeing tons of marketing dollars spent on businesses that are temporarily propped up on venture capital but fundamentally flawed.
Let’s move on to the idea that grocery corporations are frauds when it comes to whole food, or even healthy food.
Real food has always had to compete on an unfair playing food. Real food hasn’t been genetically hopskipped over generations to be more luscious, sweeter, unnaturally pleasing to the tongue.
Real food comes with slight blemishes, the marks of (gasp) reality. It isn’t buffed and burnished, pumped full of fillers and quivering with the tempting overly fat streaks that are a hallmark of human manipulation.
Real food doesn’t jiggle coquettishly with preservatives or stabilizers.
Real food comes from real people; farmers, bakers, dairymen, butchers, plowmen, cooks and chefs. Real food comes marked from hands plunging elbow deep into dough, or stringing out the guts of a cow, wringing the neck of a chicken, or plucking an apple from the tree.
You can’t keep real food hanging around. It doesn’t have all that fake “stuff” in it to keep it. Real food (with the notable exception of honey) wilts, rots, or decomposes when left on the shelf at room temperatures.
Real food isn’t covered with wax, sprayed with pesticides, or beautiful in the centerfold food porn sense. It’s real.
Unfortunately for the marketing wonks who have learned how to manipulate your craving centers, they’ve been pushing the wrong product.
They’ve been pushing fake, preservative-pumped, stabilizer-soused flakes, powders, pills, and plastic bags sealed with nitrogen to stop the inevitable, natural, healthy process of decomposition.
With access to information, the internet has enabled consumers to grasp with an ever clenching grip the spine of physical in-store commerce. Soon that spine will snap. This death grip on physical stores started with products that had a shelf life of hundreds of years called books, and is closing now on the last great redoubt, fresh food.
For years, the large grocery chains have been able to bullshit you that their produce is fresh. They’re not. Bananas are picked weeks early and ripen during transit. Same with apples and tomatoes.
The ability for you the customer to get exactly what you want within a day or two without having to go through the hassle of ramming your way through a passel of Prius’ and throwing elbows to keep your place in the organic buffet line is here.
This brings us to our last point, that grocery chains have strayed far from their original intent. In the early days they were pioneers and champions of health. As they grew and responded to the calls for organic, natural, and gluten free, they simultaneously gave in to the cries for shareholder value, return on investment, and ever higher profits.
As giant corporations bought up smaller companies to gain efficiencies of scale, they ignored what had made them great. Companies that “held [their] suppliers to rigorous standards: no harmful chemicals or preservatives, no artificial colors or flavorings, and no white flour, refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine or chocolate” were bought up and converted from a strict champion of health to a food porn queen in the name of squeezing every last drop of profit out of the appearance of healthy food.
That’s why you won’t see Paleo Treats in your nearest gleaming pimp of a “healthy” grocery store any time soon.
Where will you see us? We’re happy to partner with smaller chains and wellness centers, places where people actually care about the quality of the products they sell, where they don’t immediately copycat their best selling brands with an in-house version that’s cheaper.
Mostly, we’re sticking to what we’re the best in the world at: Making healthy desserts that fit your requirements exactly and shipping them straight to you via our website.
We’re all about quality, whether in ingredients, customer service, or the beauty of the box we ship in. We’re not owned by investors and we’re hell bent on going far beyond dessert and into providing Americans with the tools they need to accurately assess, attain and maintain a healthy thriving lifestyle.
This is a nation of hard workers and entrepreneurs, people who want the best and are willing to work for it. For far too long we’ve been hustled and duped, led to believe that there’s only one way to health and that path is clearly marked by the government. It ain’t. Total health shares basic principles across diets and can be achieved many ways.
We welcome everyone into this many-tracked forest of health, from hard core paleo eaters to our vegan brothers and sisters, from gluten free moms to that 3% of Americans suffering from Celiac who deserve more than a choice between no dessert and poison.
Our mission is to add beauty, quality, and joy to the world, to have fun, and make money. We’re doing that by providing you with not just the finest Paleo desserts on the planet, but the information and stoke you need to reach out and grab the life you want with a firm grip, holding on until you achieve your dreams.
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Too much reading...
How about dessert?