Foster Farms has a new take on “comfort food,” the homey but possibly unhealthy fare that your Mom might serve up.
The Livingston-based poultry company has launched a campaign that urges people to try lighter alternatives to recipes laden with fat and starch.
Out goes deep-fried chicken in favor of an oven-baked version that’s part of a sandwich dressed with Greek yogurt rather than mayonnaise. Creamy noodle dishes such as stroganoff or macaroni and cheese give way to “zoodles,” which are noodles made from zucchini.
“When you look at the old comfort food, it was about food that gives you an emotional connection but at the same time was very heavy,” Ira Brill, director of communications for Foster Farms, said Friday.
The campaign promotes the Simply Raised line of raw chicken, raised without the use of antibiotics. It is a small part of the Foster Farms portfolio, which offers hundreds of fresh, frozen, marinated and other versions of chicken and turkey from plants in Livingston, Turlock and elsewhere.
People look to food for comfort, and we just got interested in this notion of how consumers are changing.
Ira Brill, Foster Farms
The campaign, called the New Comfort Food, is taking place via television, digital media and recipes on the company website, www.fosterfarms.com.
Last month, Brill took part in a panel discussion in San Francisco on this new countertrend. It also featured chef Dean Rucker, who won a “Chopped” competition on the Food Network, and Kit Yarrow, professor emerita of consumer psychology at Golden Gate University.
“The comfort food of yesterday is not as relevant to today’s consumers,” said Rucker, who helped create the recipes. “Today’s home chefs want their meals to taste good, but they also want to use ingredients they feel good about.”
Yarrow noted that many consumers today use social media to learn about food.
“Today’s new comfort food is about variety, impact and high-quality ingredients rather than simply taste indulgence,” she said.
Foster Farms commissioned a survey that found growing interest in fruits and vegetables, along with meat raised without antibiotics. Eighty-three percent of respondents said chicken is a staple in comfort-food dishes, far more than red meat.
The company also tracked preferences via online Pinterest boards. Lasagna, macaroni and stroganoff all have declined.
“People look to food for comfort,” Brill said, “and we just got interested in this notion of how consumers are changing.”
John Holland: 209-578-2385