June 25-28 | “Go with Purpose!”

It’s always energizing to gather with your peers and dialogue about innovative techniques and food. This year’s IFT held in Las Vegas, Nevada was a moment in time jam-packed with a deep dive into innovation. With 20 thousand plus attendees, idea exchange was literally buzzing in every nook and cranny of the Sands Convention Center and the Venetian Resort and Casino.

Here are our top five takeaways from three jam-packed days we spent at the receiving end of the information “fire hose.”

  1. We are responsible to turn our farm raised and harvested crops into safe, nutritious and delicious foods that people around the world in changing times and spaces can eat with confidence and enjoy!” John Coupland, Ph.D., current IFT President opened the Monday morning keynote Panel discussion session, “Processed Food: The Good, the Bad, and the Science,” with this call to action.Dr. Coupland’s remarks mirror the Vision and Mission of Thomas Creek Farms. There is no greater purpose for value-added food innovation and full-scale processing than this from our grower perspective. TCF’s greatest strength is food innovation from field to fork.
  2. Clean Labels are in! The processed, manufactured food industry strives to serve a growing millennial consumer group by repurposing their vast array of products with cleaner, simpler ingredients.This process of repurposing foods poses numerous issues for both the organic and the conventional segments of food manufacturing. The bottom line: the greater the risk of consumer adoption of a new product the least likely the innovation/creation of the new product development is to be chosen and executed. This means that new products that are different and no longer contain the standard laundry list of sweeteners, additives, and preservatives have a much slimmer chance of making to the retail shelf. This is exactly what TCF is about: innovation of clean, simple, honest and delicious snack foods and ingredients.
  3. The wide acceptance of probiotics in yogurts, food bars and a plethora of other foods is on the rise and trending. As the consumer learns about the importance of the gut microbiome and its integral role in their quality of life, foods enrobed in or containing viable probiotic strains continue to find their way into their homes and tummies. Microbes in the gut are like tools in a toolbox. These microbes break down linkages in food molecules, making it possible for the resulting substrates to be utilized by the body’s cells as energy.
  4. Fermented foods are on the rise all around the globe. It’s no surprise, as the consumer reaches for probiotic containing foods, that fermented foods are gaining a sizeable foothold in grocery carts! The session, “History, Characteristics and Health Benefits of Fermented Foods,” disclosed one of the primary differences between Western tastes and the Korean palate.
    In the Asian countries, especially Korea (K-Diet), food preservation and innovation has been founded upon the development of earthen ware for food storage and preparation coupled with the use of salt for food preservation. Yogurts, kimchi, and fermented soybean products are among the staples foods which help fight against obesity and degenerative diseases in the Korean population.
    The Western diet and palate are built around sugars and their many forms and functions. This is not surprising. Just look at what is most popular in every form of advertising today and you see sugar center stage.
    We can learn a lot from the health research going on in Korea currently to uncover the nuances and bioactive compounds present in fermented foods that have been the staple of a healthy existence in Asia for centuries.
  5. Bioactive compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may serve to help lower the risk associated with some chronic illnesses. Foods, such as berries, apples, and whole grains are continuing to gain space on the millennial shopping list as functional foods. The symposium, “Health Benefits of Bioactive Compounds in Foods,” pointed to the whole food approach as most affective delivery of antioxidant compounds that may help move the needle on functional effects within the body systems. Every snack, every meal is an opportunity for change in quality of life. The “over fed” state may lead to oxidative stress and inflammation which can lead to a functional consequence such as loss of cardiovascular flexibility. Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman mentioned that 2 cups/day of strawberries may help the insulin/glucose response.

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