The Pie: Film, Caribbean, and Ozempic

June 7, 2024

Hi Pies - welcome back to your sugar-free slice of pie!

Check out our take on the two latest weight-loss drugs making the rounds and what that means for companies trying to capture the "food as medicine" twin offering below.

We are also diving into Caribbean cuisine is expanding and Haitian, Guyanese, Dominican, and Trinidadian creations are getting more accents of attention.

We love to see more flavor on plates and in contemporary cinema. Filmmakers are brewing more behind the lens of agriculture and environmental justice. Sundance is taking place right now and you can now stream some of the action right at home. One standout film with the director award, Sugarcane, is a gripping investigation that sparks a reckoning on the nearby Sugarcane Reserve. We attended the premiere and talk of Common Ground recently and truly look forward to more storytelling driving regenerative consumer decisions this season and beyond.

Next week we will be back with a summary of supply chain and geopolitical trends, innovators of the past and future, and, of course, we are smack-jellied in the middle of jobs and AI -- it's time to have a more honest conversation.

Until then... stay well,

Riana and the Journey Team 🌱

A Shot at Food as Medicine 💉

Obesity is a growing worldwide epidemic that affects the overall wellness, happiness, competitiveness, and output of billions of people in dozens of countries - America being no exception - which is why two drugs have recently taken the spotlight due to their weight-loss inducing side effects: Ozempic and Wegovy. The stardom, black market, and $77 Billion "formal" market of these medications have skyrocketed to virality, as dozens of hashtags with hundreds of thousands of views each overflow on TikTok and X (formerly Twitter) for those who are taking them. However, a common and negative side effect is a lack of nourishment as people become unable to consume food. Longitudinal studies are years away from true evidence, food companies can take a step forward in the nutrition and appetite fight.

This is where many brands are stepping and ramping up to capitalize on this newest trend. Where their bottom lines were hurt as reduced appetites meant reduced profits for them, they have instead developed products that cater to those taking Ozempic and Wagovy. Large global food companies are pouring in research dollars making supplements to help meet vitamin and nutritional needs. At the same time, chemical and ingredient labs are looking to design drinks to meet protein and muscle mass needs. Startups have a large opportunity to gain trust and social following as more consumers are looking for alternative brands.

As the drugs continue to be in high demand, only time will tell if this is nothing more than the latest drug fad or a long-lasting change that food companies must adapt to.

Caribbean Rising

After decades of existing in only niche city blocks and suburban areas, many Caribbean chefs and entrepreneurs are launching their own restaurants in order to bring their culture to the United States and encourage others to learn about their own roots. The Caribbean is where 46% of Black immigrants come from - about two million people - and now many are sharing their history and flavors in the form of traditional cooking across the US.

The Caribbean Islands are a melting pot of various rich cultures and walks of life; it is no exaggeration to say that the islands are where many cultures and groups converge.  As aptly described by Chef Don Berto in a recent NY Times article, “Anywhere there was colonization, the enslaved and the colonizers brought their food. When those worlds met, there was an extension of culture, food, and new taste… developed.” These new rich tastes are slowly establishing themselves in the U.S., and each island country has something yummy to offer.

Canje, for example, is a Guyanese restaurant in Austin, Texas that serves aromatic meals like pepperpot, whereas Kann delivers savory Haitian dishes like griyo and diri to Portland, Oregon. Nelson German, the owner of alaMar, serves slow-roasted pernil and oxtail in Oakland, California, while chef Lisa Nelson serves Trinidinidian flavors in New Orleans.

As restaurants rise, so too are companies like Vitamin V Tea, pushing for more packaged infusions of island life. What was once a vastly underexplored sector of distinctive flavors is now becoming AmeriCarib goodness. Supporting more Haitian, Guyanese, and other dominant Caribbean businesses is a good way to introduce new spices, and flavors while learning more and celebrating their vivid history.

Culture Pie

With the Sundance Film Festival well underway and the SAG-AFTRA strike over, movies are expected to come flying off the assembly line as production resumes and theaters begin re-catering to audiences with hot releases. However, not every film coming out is an action-thriller or a Marvel blockbuster - indeed, documentaries are making a killer comeback, specifically ones about food production and food systems, as well as the people who make them possible.

Farming While Black is one such documentary, based on the book by Leah Penniman - the co-founder of Soul Fire Farm in New York. It details the unique challenges that African American farmers face, and how they work together to raise awareness and promote Black land sovereignty. The Smell of Money depicts the plight of eastern North Carolinians who live close to a massive hog farm, suffering land degradation.

The film fest's directorial winners, Julian Brave Noisecat and Emily Kassie, take on the hard past of Indian residential and boarding schools which has never been new to Indigenous communities. In the superlative and gripping documentary of both artistic and agricultural provenance.

Let us know if you can drop into Sundance online or join our partners there!

This week's pie was baked by Riana and Emerson on the Journey Team

Eat well.

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