28 March 2024

Beyond the Table: National Nutrition Month® ‘24

As we near the end of National Nutrition Month® ’24, we’re taking the time to reflect on the brilliant topics surrounding this year’s theme: ‘Beyond the Table.’ This theme takes us beyond what lands on the table in front of us and delves into the dynamics of ‘farm-to-fork’ experiences, exploring our relationship with food and nutrition beyond the confines of the dining table at home—whether it’s on-the-go, in busy schools, cosy restaurants, or at unforgettable events.

‘Beyond the Table’ is not just a theme; it’s a call to action. It calls upon us to take sustainability seriously and reduce food waste both within and beyond the walls of our homes. It’s positioned to recognise that our choices impact our community, our environment, and the planet. Businesses and individuals should ask themselves: can forward planning help? How can we make food go further? And, how do we reduce food waste?
All food and beverage businesses play a pivotal role in this year’s theme. From educating customers on how the food they serve is produced to providing more sustainable options and helping their customers make better decisions when eating away from home.

Let’s dive into some of the topics in more detail as we wrap up an insightful National Nutrition Month®.

What is National Nutritional Month?

Firstly, before we get carried away, let’s take a little look at exactly what National Nutrition Month® is and where it came from.

National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign established in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

If you want to find out a little more about National Nutrition Month® and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, head over to their website where you’ll find a wealth of information, guides and handy tools: https://www.eatright.org/

Now, let’s get into some of the points to highlight on years theme…

Learn What’s Involved in Growing Your Fooding Routine

We all know that eating foods full of great nutritional value is important, but sometimes we forget about the routine. It’s like having a gym membership, only showing up occasionally and expecting results. It’s about the routine, habit, and consistency that’s going to make a difference and ultimately make us feel good – which is what we all want, right?

Instead of stressing over every calorie or carb, we should turn our attention to building a healthy eating routine that works for us (and our customers). That means stocking up on plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, mixing in some whole grains and lean proteins, and, most importantly, listening to our body’s hunger and fullness signals.

And that does sound really simple when you’re in control of the weekly food shop, but what about when eating out with friends and family, eating at school, at work, or on-the-go? Well, in the UK, it’s a requirement for hospitality businesses to have correct labelling and allergen information on their packed goods and menus, giving customers the information to make informed choices and, more importantly, the opportunity to avoid any ingredients that might cause them harm. This regulation is called Natasha’s Law.

UK food and beverage businesses are also required to display calorie information on menus and labels, so if you’re counting the calories, it’s much easier to do so when eating outside of your home.

What is Natasha’s Law?

Natasha’s Law requires food businesses to provide full ingredient labelling on pre-packaged foods. This includes foods sold in cafes, restaurants, takeaways, and supermarkets. The labelling must clearly display a list of all ingredients, including potential allergens, with clear and legible text.

The law aims to improve food safety and allergen awareness, particularly for individuals with food allergies or intolerances. By providing clear ingredient information, your customers can make more informed choices about the foods they purchase and consume, and you can ensure their safety and protection.

If you’re not sure whether your business currently complies with Natasha’s Law, or you want to improve your allergy and labelling process, reach out to the IndiCater team to make your customers’ safety a top priority.

Learn What’s Involved in Growing Your Food

The second part of the theme we want to explore is all around learning what’s involved in growing and raising the food you consume or serve.

The way food is grown, processed, and prepared can affect its nutritional content. For example, fruits and vegetables that are picked at peak ripeness and consumed shortly after may retain more nutrients than those that are picked early and transported over long distances. Of course, the best possible approach to this is growing your own. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of plucking a ripe tomato straight from the vine or digging up your prized pumpkin from your own back garden. However, not all of us have the time, space or knowledge to pull out the garden gloves and get cracking.

So, how can you find out what’s involved in growing the food you eat?

  1. Seek out and support local farmers: Some farms in the UK are open to the public so head down there where to see (and ask) how food is produced. They might have a shop you can purchase directly from, or they might be able to direct you to local markets that stock their goods.
  2. Always check the food label: Because of Natasha’s Law, pre-packaged foods sold in the UK are required by law to display ingredients and nutritional content on the packaging. Look for labels that indicate where the food was produced, whether it’s organic, and whether it has any certifications (e.g., Red Tractor for British food assurance). This information can provide insights into how the food was produced and processed.
  3. Take a look online: Many food producers and retailers will provide detailed information about their production practices on their websites. Take a glance at their websites or contact them directly to understand a little more.

Sustainable eating, cooking and hospitality

The third and final part of the theme we’ve want to highlight is reducing food waste and the importance of sustainable practices within the hospitality industry.

Whether it’s cutting back on food waste, opting for eco-friendly packaging, or supporting companies and brands that prioritise environmental consciousness, every little counts!

Sustainable practices in the hospitality industry are key for environment impact AND for nutritional value. Sustainable production methods ensure the preservation of nutrient-rich soil and biodiversity, producing foods that are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Environmentally friendly practices also support local farmers more accessible to their communities. This abundance of delicious, nutritious foods helps everyone consume a more diverse array of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – which we all know improves overall health and well-being.

Adopting a more sustainable approach also aims to reduce food waste throughout the supply chain, from farm to fork, ensuring that more nutritious foods make it to the table.

Managing and displaying nutritional information for your customers

The benefits of sharing nutritional information with your customers go far beyond regulation; it helps you build positive relationships, enabling your customers to make better choices. It builds trust and demonstrates your understanding of their health and well-being.

For hospitality businesses looking to streamline their operations, provide better options for their customers, and comply with regulations, there’s IndiCater! Our team has over 20 years of hospitality software experience, and we take the health of your business and your customers seriously. That’s why we’ve created an all-in-one hospitality solution to help manage your menus, recipes, and much more.

If you’re keen to show commitment and dedication to your customers’ well-being, reach out to our team. We’re here to help you reach your goals together.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash.