grain wheat flour (that’s five times the calcium in whole milk!). Chia
is also rich in essential fatty acids.
Heritage grains can provide a variety of distinct flavor profiles.
Quinoa and amaranth have grassy notes, millet is very earthy and
puffed kamut is mild with nutty undertones. Varying blends of different grains can create unique layers of flavors that play well together.
Many nationally recognized brands are making the jump to incor-
can offer a flavorful
root to the past.”
porate heritage grains as premium ingredients. Nature’s Path Organic
Heritage Flakes and O’s contain kamut, spelt, millet and quinoa. Clif’s
Luna bars contain such grains as quinoa, amaranth and barley. Altiplano Gold makes a Oaxacan Chocolate hot quinoa instant cereal.
Oskri Organics utilizes harvest grains such as quinoa, amaranth and
buckwheat in their bars.
Heirloom produce. Like heritage grains, heirloom produce can
offer a flavorful root to the past. Unlike new seed cultivars that have
been selected for size, uniformity and yield, heirloom varieties can
offer more intense, varying flavors. The definition of an heirloom
varies, but generally refers to those varieties that existed 50 to 100
years ago—before large-scale processing created the need for selection of seed based on disease resistance and yield.
Heirlooms may also be a better source of nutrition as well. A study
conducted by the University of Texas examined changes in USDA nutritional database values over the past 50 years. The study evaluated 43
different garden crops and the differences in their nutrient values
from 1950 to 1999. The findings showed a nutritional decline in the
evaluated crops, and suggested a possible link to newer cultivars being
selected for yield and disease resistance versus nutrient value.
In addition to consumers choosing heirloom varieties at the farmer’s market, manufacturers are incorporating heirlooms into their product lines.
Dave’s Gourmet Organic recently released a Spicy
Heirloom Marinara Sauce, while Sustainable Sourcing offers Organic Heirloom Peppercorns. The
names of heirloom varieties—Black Prince, Purple
Peruvian, Brandywine—offer a charming marketing
Let’s Get Specific
Just as champagne gained premium status by being made from
grapes grown only in the Champagne region of France, specific origin
and branded ingredients take a product to the premium level by
adding differentiation. Other examples of specific origin products
available include Tunisian Olive Oil, Maine Blueberries, Oregon
Mushrooms and Kona Coffee.
The Hartman Group’s study, “
Premium Experiences: Understanding
the Consumer Redefinition of Quality,” found that premium ingredients
tend to be more about the narrative
behind the ingredient rather than
just the ingredient itself. Attaching
origin adds value to products by providing a more personal eating experience, allowing consumers to imagine
that place, much like describing the
setting in a good book.
Some of the ingredients that have
been a big part of this trend are
honey, chocolate and salt.
Honey. With more than 300 varieties sold in the United States, specific origin honey pushes a product
into the premium category. Each specific plant and growing region from
which bees gather nectar influence
the flavor and texture of honey.
A poem by Dick Paetzke says that,
“Honey is the soul of a field of flowers.” Rather than selecting a standardized multifloral honey, product
developers may add intrigue and
complexity to a product by choosing a
varietal honey produced in a specific
region. These varietal honeys each
have their own distinct flavor profiles.
Rare macadamia honey is produced from the blooms of
macadamia trees in Hawaii. According to the National Honey Board, the
sweet aroma and delicate nutty flavor
of this amber colored honey makes a
delicious marinade for fish and is also
perfect when paired with dark chocolate and/or coconut desserts.
Tupelo honey, light with complex
floral, herbal and fruity flavors, is harvested from tupelo gum trees in the
southern U.S. wetlands. Tupelo honey
never granulates and works well in
Zambezi Organic Forest Honey imports raw fair trade honey from the
banks of the Zambezi River in Africa.
The company is owned by two Peace
Corp volunteers, who donate a por-