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'Clean' Eating Grows In Popularity

November 13, 2012, 5:04 PM by Peggy Moyer

'Clean' Eating Grows In Popularity

People are beginning to pay more attention to what they put on their tables and in their bodies.

The concept of clean eating is growing in popularity.  And South Dakota farmers and restaurant owners want to help you live a healthier lifestyle.

The phrase "clean plate" means a lot to anybody who suffers from food allergies. And for restaurants and grocery stores, offering "cleaner" is not only good for customers, it can be good for business.

Nucci's Italian Bistro in Sioux Falls offers several gluten-free dishes. It's something the owner started four years ago after learning she was allergic. Since adding the menu items, customers have started asking more questions.

"Not only did we run into wheat allergies, we're running into consumers that have allergies I haven't even heard of, and also common ones like milk and soy, which is something you wouldn't expect in a hunk of beef or a sandwich," owner Maria Pontiero said.

Pontiero calls it the "clean" plate. Customers want foods made with products they are not allergic to and with as little processing as possible.

So Pontiero is sharing her restaurant experiences at the South Dakota Food Roundtable. Her audience is comprised of farmers and others who work within the state's agriculture industry. They have a vested interest in offering the kinds of food people want to put on their plates.

"What exactly do consumers want? What are they looking for and how can we work all the way from the farmer, through the system to make sure we are delivering exactly what consumers are looking for in terms of both the products and the prices and the information," Center for Food Integrity CEO Charlie Arnot said.

From big name grocery stores to high-end restaurants, consumers are demanding "cleaner" products and businesses that are accommodating are seeing the benefit.

"Sales went up with gluten-free items that we are doing and then of course, the demand for other products that were allergy free. So I do believe there is a nice program there that can help out and increase business," Pontiero said.

Pontiero is working with her restaurant suppliers to find products with less-processed foods.

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