By KIRA HARADA-STONE
It’s Sunday afternoon and the line at the Manhattan 14th street Trader Joe’s starts at the door and wraps around the entire store. The line is filled with millennial New Yorkers stocking up for the week. A young woman wearing a bowler hat is trying to shove her cart, which contains nothing but seven bags of kale, through the line.. Everyone in line has at least one or two bags of kale, a few avocados, and several carrots, all known superfoods.
This Trader Joe’s top three sellers are spinach, kale and carrots, all popular superfoods. “Marketing them as superfoods definitely increases sales,” says Kate, a crewmember for Trader Joe’s “If we say that avocados will make you look younger in our newsletter one day, the next day we’ll be sold out of them.”
What is a superfood?
According to Live Science, “Superfood” is a relatively recent term used to describe any foods that have health benefits. “There really is no such thing as a superfood,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, in an email interview. “All foods, other than sugars and alcohol, have nutrients, but the basis of healthful eating is to eat a wide variety of relatively unprocessed foods.”
The superfood trend has lured in many young people with the promise of nutrient-packed foods that will lead to good health. Marketers soon adopted the instantly popular trend. Man superfood ads try to target the vanity and hopes for longevity of young people. The juice brand, Pom Wonderful, for example tried to claim that the antioxidants found in the “super power” fruit, pomegranate would extend life with slogans such as, “forever young,” “relax, you’ll live longer,” and “cheat death.”
Why do millennials like superfoods?
Besides making people believe that pomegranate juice is the elixir for immortality, Pom Wonderful’s campaign caused harm by selling pomegranate juice as a “fix-all” type of product. Ashley Hunt, a personal trainer and wellness expert explained this phenomenon in an article for Stackstreet, a news site targeted at millenials. “The marketing campaigns for superfoods are really just manipulating us and our desire to find a quick and easy way to be healthy,” Hunt wrote in her article, “Superfood or Supermarketing?” “It seems so simple: all you need to do is add this one ingredient to your diet and you will lose weight, fight cancer, age slower… It’s no wonder we fall for it!”
Why do they care about health?
The healthy lifestyle that superfoods provide give millenials a sense of stability. “Health is something that [millenials] have relative control over,” said Nestle. “Not much else in modern society falls into that category for them.”
“I’ve battled depression for the majority of my teenage years,” 19-year old Samara told Buzzfeed in an interview for the article, “Teenage Girls Are Using Instagram To Fix Their Relationships With Food.” “I discovered something incredible through food and a balanced lifestyle, I began to feel better both physically and mentally. This lifestyle gave me something to be passionate about again in a time of my life where I felt otherwise empty.”
While the trend of the “superfood” may just be a marketing technique, it is having a positive effect. Stores like Trader Joe’s are offering more healthy options, with superfoods even reaching outside of the produce isles into snack foods and frozen entrees. Juice bars are popping up where ice cream shops once were, and organic produce are outselling unhealthy snacks. It seems the millennial mothers can finally rest easy knowing that their children are eating their spinach.