Hungryroot wants to ‘uproot how Americans eat’ by swapping veggies for less healthy ingredients

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Hungryroot
Source: Hungryroot

Related tags Nutrition

An infusion of $6 million last April from venture capital investors is helping plant-based startup Hungryroot “uproot how America eats” by enabling it to double the variety of vegetable-based ready-to-eat meals, sweets and snacks it offers and expand its distribution. 

Hungryroot currently offers 30 “healthy indulgent foods”​ sold in select Whole Foods Markets and online in subscription bundles and individually a la carte, but in the next 18 months founder Franklin Becker said he hopes to offer about 60 SKUs.

“We are constantly learning from our customers, collecting data and finding out what people are looking for [through direct consumer feedback] and then trying to fulfill those needs in a healthy way,”​ he told FoodNavigator-USA.

Specifically, he explained, Hungryroot identifies the comfort foods Americans love and crave and then recreates them using vegetables and legumes in unexpected ways as well as better-for-you nut- and olive-based fats and sugars from the base vegetables for sweetness.

For example, Becker uses spiralized carrots as noodles in pad Thai and chickpeas and almond butter along with sweet potatoes and maple syrup to make chocolate chip cookie dough without white flour or refined sugar.

As a result, consumers are eating food that is packed with fiber, nutrients, plant-based protein and “real energy”​ as opposed to dishes laden with unhealthy fats and refined sugar that in excess contribute to obesity and adult onset diabetes, Becker said.

“Right now, there is a huge problem with adult onset diabetes actually hitting children as young as five years old. There is a huge problem with obesity in our country, too. And I think a lot of it has to do with our food supply and the lack of vegetables that we eat,”​ Becker said, noting that only 6% of Americans consume the amount of vegetables that they need in their daily allowance.

“That is a real problem, and by incorporating vegetables into foods that kids are going to eat anyways or that adults are going eat anyways,”​ Hungryroot can help increase vegetable consumption in the mainstream diet and ultimately “impact society in a big way,”​ Becker said.

More veggies, more time

Incorporating vegetables into meals and snacks without sacrificing taste is only half of the battle to improve American’s diets. The other half is making it easy for time-starved people to eat healthy on a regular basis.

That is why Becker designed most of his meals and snacks to be ready in under seven minutes. Each package of fresh ingredients comes with easy-to-follow directions on the back that usually entail reheating or stir-frying the contents in a pan.

The exception to the seven-minute rule is Hungryroot’s chickpea chocolate chip cookie dough and black bean brownie batter, which take a bit longer to bake, Becker said. But, he added, if consumers are really in a hurry, they can safely eat the dough and batter straight out of the tub because they are egg-free and made with ingredients that are safe to eat unheated.

A business rooted in personal values

Becker’s inspiration for Hungryroot and his passion about healthy, plant-based options that are accessible and convenient is rooted in his personal health history and those of his loved ones.

“I was diagnosed at 27 with type two diabetes and shortly after that I found out my son has autism, and my girlfriend has celiac disease – so for me, it is very important to eat right and make an impact on society and … ailments that are ultimately related to the foods we ingest,”​ he said.

He added, by making the healthier choice the easy choice, “we can make a difference.”

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