Recycled probiotic helps kale to grow

Actimel and kaleIt’s good to see the empty packaging of one of the most successful health brands of the 1990s used to protect the leaves of one of the most hip and cool healthy snacks of the 21st century. I took this picture in a community garden, where the owner of the plot has placed her old Actimel bottles upside down on sticks planted in the ground as bird-scarers. Together, Actimel and kale tell a story.

Danone Actimel, launched back in 1994, quickly became the world’s biggest probiotic dairy drink for immune health and a well-known global symbol of the food and health revolution that it helped begin.

Over 20 years later, Actimel is still around and it’s still a big brand. But it is kale – sold not fresh but processed into snacks and chips of all kinds – that has the bigger profile right now.

The success of kale, the hipster snack of choice from Los Angeles to London, shows how the trend of “naturally functional” has taken over. Kale – one of the most widely-cultivated vegetables in Europe – is naturally healthy, delivering 20% of the RDA (per 100g serve) of a suite of vitamins, from C to K to B6.

And foods with natural and intrinsic health benefits are what people want, more than anything else – this explains the success of coconut water and coconut oil, blueberries, oats, dark chocolate and a host of others.

Of course, kale is not convenient enough in the “fresh-from-the-garden” natural form in the picture above, so on-trend millennials buy it processed into convenient, portable snacks. Because that’s what people mean when they say they want their foods “as natural as possible and least processed” – it must be processed enough to be convenient. People are just fine with frying, baking and extruding as long as you describe the process as “gentle” on the packaging.

Posted in Editorial, Mainsite

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