Why Canned Tomatoes are a Staple in the Gen Z Kitchen
Each generation’s food values are unique, and Gen Z tends to prioritize healthy, plant-based, easy meals that still taste delicious and are totally instagrammable. Tomatoes are the ideal food for the flexitarian-focused generation, packing in the nutrition, color, and taste they crave in a convenient can. Read more about why canned tomatoes are a staple in the Gen Z kitchen with this guest blog from RD2Be, Ally Mirin.
According to the latest research, Gen Z (that’s people born between 1996 and 2010) is setting the stage for food trends. Gen Z’ers have embraced several core values when it comes to food choices, including nutrition, convenience, and a tendency towards plant based. Fruits and vegetables are stars of all three of these categories, which has great implications for our future health. Diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure, reduce risk of chronic disease, and promote a healthy weight. Choosing more plant-based meals is a great way for the youngest generation to help improve health outcomes, as well as decrease the harmful impacts of animal agriculture on the planet. Luckily, a recent survey from Aramark found that 65% of Gen Z’ers were interested in plant-forward eating, and 79% would eat meatless one to two times a week.
So what foods fit into the core values of Generation Z? Canned tomato products hit all the marks. From pasta sauce to salsa, tomatoes are versatile veggies that are chock full of nutrients, convenient to buy, store, and use, and taste delicious in a wide variety of dishes. Gen Z tends to lean towards fresh products, and canned tomatoes are picked at the peak of freshness and packaged immediately, so flavor and quality are perfectly preserved. When it comes to nutrition, tomatoes are rich sources of Vitamin C, potassium, iron, fiber, and beta carotene. Many people don’t realize that cooking and processing can actually increase the bioavailabity of certain nutrients. Lycopene is one of the more unique compounds found in tomatoes and is responsible for their signature red hue and cancer-fighting properties. Lycopene becomes more readily absorbed by your body during the cooking process, making canned tomatoes an excellent choice for Gen Z’ers focused on maximizing nutrition.
Gen Z loves to get creative in the kitchen and is more willing to try out foods from international cuisines than older generations. Tomatoes are key ingredients in classic dishes in many cultures, from Italian spaghetti Pomodoro to Indian tikka masala, to North African shakshuka. Using canned tomatoes enhances the flavor and nutrition of these diverse meals and makes preparing them easy and convenient for a generation who’s always on the go.
Gen Z is also known for their dedication to social media, and the bright red pigment in tomatoes provides a pop of color perfect for sharing via photo or video on Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Canned tomatoes make it easy for busy young people to create delicious, nutritious, plant-forward meals that taste and look incredible.
The up-and-coming generation has been breaking down barriers and fighting for change across all fronts, and food is no exception. With a focus on health, sustainability, and convenience, Gen Z has the power to shift food trends in a nutrition-focused, environment-friendly direction. Canned tomatoes are a prime example of a food that checks all the boxes and can hold a critical space in the Gen Z pantry.
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Ally Mirin is an RD2Be from Ithaca, NY. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Society with a minor in Nutrition and Health from Cornell University and is currently working on her Master of Science in Nutrition Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Ally is passionate about plant-based nutrition and cooking up healthy, delicious recipes, and hopes to work as a clinical dietitian in the future.