Imagine walking into a restaurant and seeing the biggest buffet ever. There are tables and tables of food, as far as you can see. And they are covered with everything imaginable - from American BBQ to Indian curries, from fresh and healthy to sinfully decadent, and everything in between. You see so many of your favourite dishes and many others that are unfamiliar but tempting all the same. And best of all, it’s all-you-can-eat! Now what do you do?
Most people would dive right in, start with a little of this and a little of that until their plate is practically overflowing. Then they would go back for more, plate after plate, because it tastes so good and there are so many options, until they leave having overeaten and feeling disgusting. What starts out as an enjoyable experience could easily turn into a gastronomic nightmare.
I liken this experience to the Internet. Instead of food, it offers an unlimited amount of information on an all-you-can-eat basis. It’s up to us to determine what our limits are and too often we can’t control ourselves. We go online for one thing, see something else that looks interesting, follow endless links and completely lose track of time. While this doesn’t leave us feeling disgusting like overeating does, it definitely can have a negative impact on our relationships, productivity, sleep, and general emotional wellbeing.
Now admittedly, I’m not a big fan of buffets. I find the volume of food overwhelming so I prefer to order off a menu but sometimes they are unavoidable. So, over the years, I have developed a few strategies to help me cope with the vastness they offer and walk away feel satisfied, instead of sick to my stomach. I think these strategies could also be helpful in reducing our Internet consumption, so we spend less time online.
I hope these strategies help you both online and on the less frequent occasions when you happen to find yourself facing a buffet. Bon appétit!
Last month on HBO’s ‘Real Time with Bill Maher,’ the outspoken TV personality compared the tech giants in Silicon Valley to tobacco farmers and declared “social media is the new nicotine.” I would have to disagree with him.
Unlike tobacco, cigarettes kill people. Technology (and consuming too much of it) does not. One can also live without any tobacco in their life. But unlike tobacco, I would argue it is becoming near impossible to live without technology. It is permeating every aspect of our lives, moving beyond communications, retail and media into everyday items, such as cars, wearables, household goods and smart homes. Sure, you could get by without any technology but it would be very challenging and you would miss out on the benefits it provides.
I think Bill’s comparisons to processed food are more on point than his comparisons to smoking. Technology companies are like Big Food. The processed food industry has been engineering what we eat for decades, using ingredients such as salt, fat and sugar to make us crave and consume more than we normally would. Similarly, technology companies are using neuroscience techniques with the same intentions, to make us crave and consume more than we need. Because the more we consume, the more profits they make.
Even though I don’t agree with Bill’s tobacco metaphor, I am glad he highlighted this topic and hopefully his segment will open his audience’s eyes to a growing issue. Better to see it for what it really is so people realize they have a problem and hopefully address it. There are ways to use technology without succumbing to its addictive nature but it requires awareness and a willingness to change behaviour.
As Bill said, “Philip Morris just wanted your lungs, the app store wants your soul.” This may sound like a wild exaggeration but there is some truth to his bold statement. And now is the time to do something about it, before we mindlessly slip further into technology’s alluring black hole.
Last week, I attended the BC Food Processors Association’s annual industry event - FoodProWest 2017 - with my colleague, Pam, from BrainComm Strategy + Design. It was the BCFPA’s 10th anniversary and their largest event yet, attracting over 700 food and beverage processors and industry stakeholders.
As a first-timer at this show, I was happy to see the range of new and established brands represented. One newborn brand that caught my eye, and delighted my taste buds, was Nora’s non-dairy ice cream. This show was their launch party, so to speak, as they were introducing their product to the trade for the very first time. Made with a combination of coconut milk and cashew milk, this ice cream is unbelievably creamy and comes in four summer-worthy flavours. For the sake of dairy and non-dairy ice cream lovers everywhere, I hope they secure some distribution quickly because I need more Nora’s this summer!
Sun-Rype, a legendary BC food brand that’s been around since 1946, was also exhibiting at the show. Over the years, they have expanded their range of products from the 100% pure apple juice that so many of us grew up with into other juices and beverages, fruit snacks and more. But they also sampled some exciting new products at the show that I hadn’t seen before. Of their four new Sparkling Teas, the Green Tea Honey Lemon was my favourite. It was light and refreshing, with lots of flavour, and would make a great mixer for a summer cocktail. I was surprised to see they also now have a hard cider, which originally launched as a special edition product last summer to celebrate Sun-Rype’s 70th anniversary. It did so well they decided to make it a permanent addition to their product portfolio, which can be found at select private liquor stores in BC and Alberta.
Another discovery at the show was a line of amazing Indian sauces from Sutra Foods. Paul Gill and his wife, Pari, make delicious sauces that are easily transformed into meals with the addition of vegetables or protein. My favourite, the Korma sauce, was as tasty with salmon as it was with chicken. For consumers and foodservice alike, these bagged sauces are a handy option for full-flavoured Indian goodness without having to spend hours in the kitchen.
One of my other favourites at the show was a protein bar made of bugs - crickets that is. Coast Protein uses cricket flour to deliver 10 g of protein per bar. The founder, Dylan Jones, is passionate about increasing the acceptance and consumption of this sustainable protein in North America. The samples I tried were delicious and you really couldn’t tell they contained ground crickets. Kudos to Dylan and his team for creating tasty and nutritious insect-based foods.
As someone who has worked with and for many food & beverage brands across North America, it makes me proud to see these BC-based gems. I think our entrepreneurial spirit is part of the secret sauce that makes the West a hotbed of innovation, especially in healthy and sustainable products. All this continues to feed my desire to help make BC brands a success, across the country and North America, through smart marketing strategies.
I have a curious mind and many interests. I like to spend time musing about things marketing-related, as well as how technology impacts our world.