Featuring a subtle approach to educating the carnivorous masses
Over the past few months, I have mentioned that my priorities were shifting and that I was working on a new business venture involving a new kind of healthy and convenient fast food. Last week, Mark Bittman published a great piece about healthy fast food in the New York Times, covering many of the areas that we had been studying (See link below.)
In short, the food must taste good. That is essential for a commercial success, which is essential for promoting a large scale change of eating habits in the American public. A key part of our business plan is the subtle education of that consumer who would never even consider becoming a vegetarian or vegan.
As we attract that new customer with attractive, tasty and healthy alternatives—we will make it our business to gradually get to know that new customer and continually help her make better food choices over time. A key part of that education process will involve our 4Leaf for Life approach to healthy eating.
And today, I am pleased to announce a slight revision in our 4Leaf trademark. Notice that the former TM designation has now been replaced with an official registration “R” with the circle around it.
As you may know, the 4Leaf concept was first introduced in our book in October of 2011. Later, in the spring of 2012, the 4Leaf Survey was launched on our website. Since then, that survey has been taken over 5,000 times and the reaction has been 99.98% positive. Everybody loves the simplicity and the flexibility—and most really like the idea that it’s not necessarily vegetarian or vegan.
If you’ve not taken our survey, you should do so now. We made few minor revisions lately and would like to continue to get your feedback. Click here to take the survey.
Logo designed by Thomas Mitchell of Lindberg Marketing & Media of Stonington, CT
On Mark Bittman. As I have stated many times on this blog-site, I have great respect for him and have concluded that he is the most knowledgeable prominent food reporter in the world. His latest piece was a great summary of all the reasons why we must provide healthier options for people in convenient places. While I recommend that you read the entire piece, here are a few of the first paragraphs:
When my daughter was a teenager, about a dozen years ago, she went through a vegetarian phase. Back then, the payoff for orthodontist visits was a trip to Taco Bell, where the only thing we could eat were bean burritos and tacos. It wasn’t my favorite meal, but the mushy beans in that soft tortilla or crisp shell were kind of soothing, and the sweet “hot” sauce made the experience decent enough. I usually polished off two or three.
I was thinking of those Taco Bell stops during a recent week of travel. I had determined, as a way of avoiding the pitfalls of airport food, to be vegan for the length of the trip. This isn’t easy. By the time I got to Terminal C at Dallas/Fort Worth, I couldn’t bear another Veggie Delite from Subway, a bad chopped salad on lousy bread. So I wandered up to the Taco Bell Express opposite Gate 14 and optimistically asked the cashier if I could get a bean burrito without cheese or sour cream. He pointed out a corner on the overhead display where the “fresco” menu offered pico de gallo in place of dairy, then upsold me on a multilayered “fresco” bean burrito for about 3 bucks. As he was talking, the customers to my right and left, both fit, suit-wearing people bearing expressions of hunger and resignation, perked up. They weren’t aware of the fresco menu, either. One was trying to “eat healthy on the road”; the other copped to “having vegan kids.” Like me, they were intrigued by a fast-food burrito with about 350 calories, or less than half as many as a Fiesta Taco Salad bowl. It wasn’t bad, either.
My experience at the airport only confirmed what I’d been hearing for years from analysts in the fast-food industry. After the success of companies like Whole Foods, and healthful (or theoretically healthful) brands like Annie’s and Kashi, there’s now a market for a fast-food chain that’s not only healthful itself, but vegetarian-friendly, sustainable and even humane. And, this being fast food: cheap. “It is significant, and I do believe it is coming from consumer desire to have choices and more balance,” says Andy Barish, a restaurant analyst at Jefferies LLC, the investment bank. “And it’s not just the coasts anymore.”
I’m not talking about token gestures, like McDonald’s fruit-and-yogurt parfait, whose calories are more than 50 percent sugar. And I don’t expect the prices to match those of Taco Bell or McDonald’s, where economies of scale and inexpensive ingredients make meals dirt cheap. What I’d like is a place that serves only good options, where you don’t have to resist the junk food to order well, and where the food is real — by which I mean dishes that generally contain few ingredients and are recognizable to everyone, not just food technologists. It’s a place where something like a black-bean burger piled with vegetables and baked sweet potato fries — and, hell, maybe even a vegan shake — is less than 10 bucks and 800 calories (and way fewer without the shake). If I could order and eat that in 15 minutes, I’d be happy, and I think a lot of others would be, too.
This just in. What a coincidence; Taco Bell just announced that they have jumped on the healthier eating bandwagon. Maybe they’re listening to Mark, but I’ve got a feeling that this news has been in the works for awhile. See link below for article.
Want more from Bittman? If you’d like to read more of what I have written about Mark Bittman, try googling “Mark Bittman J Morris Hicks.” I just did so and got 4300 results. And I guarantee you that ALL of them were written by me—for I am not aware of anything that Mark has written about J. Morris Hicks. Maybe someday he will—after he’s sampled some of our “healthy fast food” at one of our convenient 4Leaf for Life locations.
- Source article. Yes, Healthful Fast Food Is Possible. But Edible? – NYTimes.com.
- Source article. Taco Bell hops on better-for-you bandwagon.
- Earlier blog where I mentioned my “shifting priorities.” Keeping things simple—after 737 consecutive days (the last blogpost in my streak of 737)
Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to email@example.com
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To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now
For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.
Got a question? Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.
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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation
Such a fan of all you’re doing to help change the paradigm! Look forward to reading more updates- I am always thinking there needs to be a vegan healthy (delicious) alternative in the mall food courts- like the people in line at Taco Bell, there are plenty of us trying to make the best choices with the options laid before us. -(Vegan working at the mall)
Awesome! Will you open one in Santa Rosa? You are totally on to something. Most people just can’t seem to stay on a healthy diet because it is not convenient. We need more options with clean plant based foods. Have you heard of Yonanas ice cream maker? It makes soft serve ice cream out of frozen bananas. I’ve been wanting someone to open up an “ice cream” parlor selling only vegan ice-cream. It is frustrating in the summer to see so many people walking around eating ice cream cones. My two little boys are always asking where we can get vegan ice cream. When I saw Chef AJ do a little video demo with a Yonana machine I got really excited. The only ingredient is frozen bananas. Can’t get much healthier ice cream! It would be a great desert menu item for your new venture. All the best. Your future customer.
This is exciting news. I have many busy friends who say traveling presents their greatest challenge when trying to eat healthy food. The other comment I get is, “If I could just have someone cook for me or drive by and pick something up on the way home.” Matching the availability of good food to our hectic lifestyles may start to change our priorities too. People who eat healthy food seem to operate on a more even keel, are calmer, make better choices and are more efficient (based on my limited observations). This is such a win win enterprise.
All the best to you and the 4Leaf crew!
4Leaf for Life locations!!!! I am excited about the prospect of being able to eat healthy on the go . Actually had thought to have that type of business about 10 years ago—just a dream . Will you Franchise? I live in Southwest Michigan and we have plentiful organic produce available ,so I think it would be terrific to have one of your locations here. I am grateful for all you do.
Thank you , Judy