organic sales surge
Organic Trends
Restaurants, specialty retailers, and buyers: please take note. Big agriculture continues to lose market share as consumers strive to eat better. 
Take a look at these insights as you embrace food trends:
  • 70% of US shoppers are willing to pay a premium for local food and nearly two-thirds believe freshness is the most important criteria, according to ATKearney
  • According to the report, sales of local food have increased an estimated 13 percent per year since 2008, and the sector is now worth at least $9 billion annually. 
  • US retail grocery sales of organics grew 11.5% in 2013 and are predicted to increase this year, according to a study by the Organic Trade Association
  • Eight of 10 families now buy organic, according to Food Navigator. 
We would love to see more brands forgo premium positioning and embrace transparency. It's clear to us that differentiating with "freshness" to appeal to mainstream food culture trumps price.
Ginger Roma
Ginger Rome
Just a few steps from Piazza di Spagna in Rome, we found Ginger, a casual restaurant concept with a healthful flare. The oasis for all things organic  fresh fruit smoothies, teas, soy-milk shakes, artful salads, and gourmet panini – was a delightful global food trend indicator in the middle of Rome, Italy
{photo: Ginger}
The busy bistro was bustling with fashionable Roman Millennials enjoying "the highest quality of gastronomy."  Waiting time was nearly an hour for a seat during lunch. 
{photo: Ginger}
Ginger's a great example of how global standards have risen in healthful foods due to consumer demand. The modern interior, streamlined graphic presentation, and passionate selection of ingredients speak to a conscious consumer that doesn't view good food as a luxury. 
{source: Nordstrom. All portraits by The Selby.}
Photographer Todd "The Selby" Selby, best known for providing an insider’s view of creative individuals in their personal spaces on, has teamed up with Nordstrom to create an inspiring holiday gift guide rooted in the unique personalities of ten Seattleites.
Wait — we know what your thinking. Another collaboration? I thought you were over curation and had grown skeptical of mainstream's ability to deliver on brand experiences. Is Nordstrom putting you up to this? Yes, yes, yes, and no. Keep reading.
Sure, The Selby has launched joint projects with big names like Nike, Louis Vuitton, IKEA, and NYTimes T Magazine before. And obviously, this particular project is ultimately a sales tool for the retailer. But, the results of the the collaboration are stunning and distinct. This is not a curated list of random products laid out in neat columns. It's a surprisingly thoughtful use of film, photos, and illustration.
We're particularly drawn to Photographer Coco Aramaki, as she explains how she's trying to balance between finding the moment in work and experiencing beauty around her. A truly inspiring philosophy.
Shifting gears into edible culture, The Selby also selected an Organic Food Activist and a Chef as subjects who define genuine style. Cormac Mahoney, Chef/Co-owner of 
Madison Park Conservatory, expresses sincerity and simplicity with a profound statement: "...something special happens when someone passes you food. I believe in magic."
From heartfelt words to styling — the results are genuine. This collaboration is not just about fashionable Seattleites, but a national representation of the people and trends shaping today's culture. View more photos on The Selby's Nordstrom blog, and browse his gift guides at Nordstrom.
weed dating
weed dating

The agriculture community has taken matchmaking to the fields with Weed Dating, a new spin on the speed-dating concept.

We love how Weed Dating encourages young single farmers to meet a large number of like-minded potential partners in a social situation that embraces the values and time constraints of the industry. We don't see why activists, gardeners, and outdoor enthusiasts don't jump at the opportunity to connect with farmers of similar interests. We can see the hashtag now: #DateAFarmer.

According to Springwise, the trend "has been spotted in Maine, Idaho, and Vermont – among other locales – and it offers new hope for rural agriculturalists suffering from a lack of companionship". Check out the video below.

{source: Springwise}
Orange Wine
Orange Wine
We're not going to pretend that we'd heard much about the Indie Darling of the Wine World, but this organic Grenache Blanc "Orange Wine" by AmByth Estate in Templeton, CA was unexpectedly delightful.
"Orange Wine" may be the hot topic among wine aficionados, but it's hardly mainstream due to the artisanal process.

According to natural winemakers Mary and Phillip at Ambyth, "Orange Wine" means letting the freshly crushed juice ferment on the skins, seeds, and stems — giving it an orange hue with great tannins. They use native yeast fermentation until dry, aging in 50/50 neutral oak barrels and stainless steel. The latest release (2011) is from Martian Ranch, but we were lucky enough to catch the current harvest fermentation.

AmByth Estate is the first and only winery in the Paso Robles region to produce Demeter certified Biodynamic wines. To make matters even more complex, the property is 100% dry-farmed on steep hillsides. In addition to the 20 acres of vineyards, the diverse estate includes 600 olive trees, 100 fruit and nut trees, a herd of dairy cows, a variety of free range chickens, 2 bee hives, and very happy dogs. To learn more about their farming principles and estate wines, click here.
As major food manufacturers continue to debate and dilute the meaning of natural in advertising, it's refreshing to meet a team that is knowledgeable and passionate about their range of wines. We love how these small vintners are leveraging multiple trends (natural, sustainable, biodynamic, organic, healthy, artisanal) to create a unique product that will appeal to a variety of demographics.
Eat Local Seattle
Eat Local Seattl
We're pleased to see Eat Local take root with a third location in Seattle.
The prepared foods company, with Northwest farmed organic or sustainable produce and meat, creates hand-made frozen meals from scratch. Each menu item is available in either BPA free, biodegradable packaging or reusable glass containers.
We've long admired the success of frozen prepared food concepts since discovering Picard in France with their 800+ locations. As you can see from the picture above, though, the Eat Local brand is significantly more approachable that the Picard stores, which are shown below.
{Picard - Paris}
What do you think? As far as we're concerned, Eat Local takes the cake.

Watermelon fields in eastern China are a mess after farmers used growth chemicals in an attempt to make extra money. The farmers sprayed forchlorfenuron, a growth accelerator, during overly wet weather and put it on too late in the season, which made the melons explode in the fields according to one report by China Central Television.

According to MSNBC, the exact growth chemical used by Chinese farmers is permitted on grapes and kiwi fruit in the US.

This is yet another example of the increasingly concerns about food safety and quality tracking. As we examine the food chain and the increase in sales of organic produce, it seems logical to draw attention to the inability of agencies to inform the public fully, and avoid potentially severe health hazards.

{sources: BBC, MSNBC}

We enjoyed a lovely morning at Eataly: New York's new Italian themed gastro-dome. If food was a playlist, we'd be playing these tracks over and over.

  • La Piazza, located in the heart of the structure, unifies the building with a massive hall for stand-up quick snacks or sit-down bar service. Above this section hangs a banner: "Eat Better Cook Simple".
  • Each mini-specialty purveyor is categorized (raw bar, cheese counter, charcuterie, rosticceria) and merchandised well with logical add-on supplies and helpful staff.
  • The layout is cohesive with architectural features and subtle nuances that differentiate and guide the customer throughout the retail, restaurant and grocery experience.
  • Authentic flooring finishes, similar to those in traditional markets around Italy, vary from space to space without feeling forced. Cracks in tile are celebrated like perfect imperfections.

  • Scattered among the retail and restaurants are stalls for produce and proteins. These shops within a shop take on a more European feeling than the well defined spaces within the Ferry Building (SF), Chelsea Market (NYC) or Pike Place Market (Seattle).
  • Above, a local fish monger (with a not so local tiled landscape of Napoli) was situated within close proximity of the raw bar and fish grill, clearly defining this part of the facility and seemingly making a large space feel intimate and welcoming.

  • The numerous inventory includes many familiar gourmet and specialty food brand, but also includes some Indie-Italian lesser known gems that most likely are direct imports.
  • The multiple gourmet foods sections are scattered around the hall, close to other logical adjacencies (chocolate and confections are across from the Lavazza espresso bar and tea sampling station... dried pasta near the restaurant serving fresh pasta... spices close to the butcher).
  • The balance of inventory definitely favors longer shelf life items like the dried pasta, canned preserves and an impressive homeware collection of books, tabletop and linens from brands like Alessi.
  • Eataly Icons, Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich's, have their assortment of pasta sauce displayed in prime retail proximity to the endless pasta isles.


  • In addition to the imported items, it is clear that careful attention has been paid to inventorying and messaging sustainable local produce and products.
  • The assortment is not complete. In speaking to the floor manager to inquire about yeast packets from Italy, he was the first to admit that some items are still in customs and offered to take down our info to follow up on the request.


  • We were pleased to see that all of the communication and signage within the building was in both Italian and English.
  • This specific treatment, being a subject of debate from a previous project, was executed flawlessly. It punctuated the experience as opposed to distracting or diluting.
Eataly is a satisfying food experience and worth the visit for cultural insights and retail anthropology perspective. Going into further detail about the venue- a well publicized and photographed facility- would be overkill.

If you are interested in additional photographs or want to inquire about customized market exploration tours, please feel free to contact us at:

Interesting innovation found in Germany allows small farmers to sell directly to consumers daily without the labor, time and travel associated with a farmers market.

{photo: Franziska Luh via}

German farm, Peter-und-Paul-Hof, has collaborated with vending manufacturer Stuewer to create farm vending machines, according to Springwise. The Regiomat machines sell fresh milk, eggs, butter, cheese, potatoes and sausage in thirteen German towns and communities.

We love the update to the traditional farm stand and hope to see more fresh vending options that cater to local foods.

This photo seems passe in comparison to the fancy organic supermarkets. We're evolved to expect the a certain "fresh" look at grocery to tantalize the senses.

Many merchandisers have taken a cue from Farmers Markets. Whole Foods and premium markets have adopted the "Farmers Market" look and adapted it for grocery- giving the impression of local and seasonal produce under an organic platform.

Key components of the "Farmers Market" look include:
  • The placement of bright produce arranged by in color contrast instead of category
  • Produce free of plastic bags
  • Handwritten signage instead of computer printed ones
  • Stacked boxes in lieu of generic display fixtures.
We've also found that shifts in merchandising often correspond with a perception or awareness of food. Today, romaine seems bland given the lettuce selection available at any farmers market and shoppers are requesting local as well as organic products.

Given the current economic situation, the trend toward more basic foods and mainstream "Farmers Market" look, we predict that functional merchandising of like items together might be on the forefront. Additionally, functional merchandising (i.e. how the product is used), represents an opportunity for specialty purveyors to delights the eye with color while communicating a greater purpose (all of the items go-together in a recipe) in a seemingly natural display.

Think of functional cross-merchandising as the melding of farmers market and color trends with purpose and some suggestive selling based on consumers desire to have a closer relationship with their food.