Retail Observer

November 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM NOVEMBER 2014 38 Kevin Henry Guest Columnist RO Kevin Henry— Director of Business Development at DACOR, a California based manufacturer of residential kitchen appliances. As a designer, writer, and speaker, Mr. Henry is a recognized "thought-leader" to the kitchen industry for over 30 years regarding market trends and industry direction. You can contact Kevin at and read his blog at W hen growing up as child in post-war America, food seemed to be the center of life. We shopped as if we were shopping for the end of western-civilization. Eggs, bacon, breakfast cereal, milk, coffee, assorted fruits and a few vegetables and cans upon cans of Jolly Green Giant corn and peas. I remember years later, helping my parents to pack up the house for a move to New Hampshire and finding cans of food in the pantry dating back to the Kennedy administration. And meat, my God we purchased and froze more meat than we could ever possibly eat. I have no memory of ever actually defrosting anything, only my dad's drives down to the butcher for fresh steaks because the ones he had were still frozen and far from ready to barbecue. This jog down memory-lane is to point out that much of America's shopping and eating habits have changed very little since the 1950's and I would go so far as to say that they have gotten far worse. Today, we need to worry about everything from an increase in food-allergies to diabetes. As well as added growth hormones, antibiotics to genetically modified organisms (GMO's) that directly effects our overall health. I believe that it's time to rethink how we eat, what we eat and most importantly how we shop and prepare our meals. For years, I have been traveling back and forth to Europe for my work as a kitchen designer, and the opportunity presents itself to stay with friends instead of a hotel. Like in the US, their kitchens are the hub of daily life but something is very different. Every meal is a symphony of color, taste and texture. From the morning meal of eggs, cheese and assorted meats, as well as juice and coffee to the evening meal of fish or chicken, vegetables, bread and wine. In the middle of a lively debate on the merits of American verses European kitchen design we started on the topic of refrigeration. That's when the fundamental differences between European and American life hit me. The average American family was still living and buying food on a 50 year old model based upon an Industrial Food Complex of corporate farming, industrial processing, packaging and national retail food distribution, all which encourages mass consummation and storage of food stuffs that have been pumped full with additives for a longer shelf life. And we still go out once a week and buy as if the world is about to end hence the need for a huge, monolithic, stainless steel box we call a refrigerator. On the other hand, our European cousins are living an almost utopian lifestyle when compared to ours. Thinking that the smaller, 60cm (24") refrigerator was due to the smaller nature of European kitchens, it was quickly brought to my attention how wrong I was and that the smaller fridge was reflective of a lifestyle and the daily nature of meal preparation. Almost everything is purchased for that day's preparation and consumption. Fresh bread from the corner bakery, fresh fish or poultry for the evening meal, eggs, milk from a local farm and fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables from the weekly farmers market or freshly picked from their own home garden. The question is whether or not we can change our eating and buying habits for better health and nutrition. Dr. Mark Hyman believes that modern healthcare is flawed because it is based upon the premise of treatment and not prevention. Dr Hyman believes that the future of healthcare will take place in the family kitchen and not the doctor's office. He went on to say, "We ate ourselves into this problem, we can eat our way out." I have to agree with the good doctor, I to believe we can eat our way back to a healthy lifestyle and I also believe it starts in the kitchen. I have given much thought to this and feel that we all can make a few minor changes in the way we approach the way we purchase, store and prepare food. Here are my tips for a healthier and sustainable kitchen: THE NATURAL KITCHEN: 1. Buy local, buy fresh, buy daily 2. Plant a garden… grow your own 3. Use your leftovers 4. Store your food correctly for longer life 5. Use a larder for vegetables and certain dairy products 6. Replace your appliances to reduce energy consumption 7. Compost your organic kitchen waste 8. Reduce, reuse and recycle 9. Support the Non-GMO Project 10. Use natural lighting when possible, LED's when necessary 11. Live mindfully, eat consciously and choose as if it makes a difference THE NATURAL KITCHEN

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