Food startups have been a red-hot category for the past few years, with 200 percent year-over-year growth and more than $1 billion in investments in 2014 alone. In 2016, three major food corporations launched investment funds and incubators targeting innovative food companies and ideas.

The market includes hundreds of names you'll likely recognize, from meal kit delivery like Blue Apron, to newer food brands like Annie's and Hampton Creek.

The uptick has been driven by a shift in consumer demand; increasingly consumers are associating their digestive wellness with their mental and physical wellness. They're realizing food affects more than just their weight--that it impacts their energy, their focus, and their immune system.

It's a story that I'm not unfamiliar with. When I cleaned up my diet, my joint pain went away, I stopped getting sick, and my seasonal allergies went away.

It's learning that completely shifts the way you eat. Many consumers like me are looking for cleaner ingredient labels from authentic brands they trust.

This has not only sparked one of the most dynamic eras for startups and new ideas we've seen in decades, but it has also given consumers new choice. To date, ten corporations have controlled most of the world's food supply.

"Big Food" has never seen the flurry of competition that it does now. Meet "Small Food."

As a new presidential administration nears, these changes in America's food supply need to stay intact--and continue to thrive in the future to come. It is important that our next candidate plays a role to ensure this. Not just for the sake of Small Food, but also for our country's wellbeing.

A rising tide raises all boats. Supporting natural food entrepreneurs is integral to raising the standard of food options available, thus improving our country's health.

Here's how our next president can help:

Diet and food supply

Consumers have not been given transparency and factual information about our food supply. Corporations have been found to manipulate studies and reports--including the most recent report that the sugar industry paid off scientists to shift blame to fat.

The new administration should aim to better protect the people in our country, and continue to help drive consumer choice. This can include preventing agriculture interest groups from defining our nutrition recommendations, regulating against misleading labeling (for example: not allowing "healthy" labeling on sugary breakfast cereals), and requiring transparent ingredient and GMO labeling.

Cautious regulation

Government regulation, subsidies, and laws within our food supply are not always in the consumer's best interest. Many current government subsidies support Big Food and processed foods--including agriculture subsidies for the exact foods that are making people sick.

A recent report published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed the people who ate the most subsidized crops were 37 percent more likely to be obese than the general population.

Equally, a number of regulations hinder growth and innovation among small food, farmers, and alternative food suppliers. To keep the playing field fair, our new president could discontinue subsidies that benefit large food manufacturers.

Consumer trust

More consumers than ever distrust the government. And big food is a close cousin; nearly half of Americans distrust large food manufacturers.

The next administration would benefit businesses and consumers by restoring trust among Americans, and put them first regarding diet and food. This includes enforcement of regulations and laws to protect the food we consume, and taking greater concern and diligence regarding the use of chemicals, additives, pesticides, and other concerns.

Food and healthcare

America's in a healthcare crisis, and chronic illness is draining our healthcare infrastructure and resources. The role of diet and food including use of pesticides and other chemicals are increasingly to blame for diseases.

Our future government will have no option but to support changes to the food supply to help improve health and wellness in America.

Historically, our government has gone the other way--allowing Big Food to silence the government and tightly control information and markets.

But in reality, Small Food can be the partner the government needs in lowering healthcare costs (and therefore, the national debt)--and help benefit our country's economic bottom-line.

Published on: Oct 25, 2016