Every parent knows the drill. Kids are hungry, you’re on the go, and fresh vegetables aren’t shelf stable enough to keep in the glovebox. So you toss back a container of his or her favorite snack crackers. Kid rejoices. Parent is relieved, but with a tinge of guilt for offering “empty” calories.

Sound familiar?

But what if those “empty” calories weren’t empty at all? What if instead they were jam packed with functional ingredients that taste great, support a cleaner food label, and are good for you by design. This vision is what brought me to Arcadia Biosciences a year ago to build the company’s first-ever commercial pipeline and launch our family of functional food ingredients, GoodWheat. Through advanced plant breeding techniques, we’ve created wheat varieties that make for some pretty incredible consumer flour products: 2-6x more fiber content, 70 percent fewer allergens from reduced gluten, better-tasting, longer-lasting whole grain flour, and with many products also carrying increased protein content and reduced calories.

Creating identity-preserved flour might sound like a cottage industry, but it’s one of the next big innovations in food production that supports human health. A recent study from Tufts cited a lofty $100 billion saved if doctors prescribed fruits and vegetables as preventives. According to the Centers for Disease Control, upwards of 70 percent of diseases are lifestyle driven – heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc. Factor in, too, that a recent study we commissioned with Connell Group confirmed that more than one in four Americans are actively seeking a reduced gluten diet.

Our core premise is wheat flour can be really good for you – and not only through the whole grain products you’re accustomed to. Specially-bred flours can bring forward valuable, tasty characteristics from within the wheat genome to do can do things like help slow digestion, reduce gut inflammation, and support better moderated blood sugar levels. For many, these health challenges are the gateway to significant disease down the road. But imagine how this path would play out differently if people had easy access to food that helped them achieve their recommended fiber intake; today 95 percent of us fall short in getting. Indeed, it’s not only fiber that’s of interest. Our recent study with the Connell Group confirmed that more than one in four Americans are actively seeking a reduced gluten diet. Independent of people managing chronic conditions like Celiac disease, a meaningful percentage of average eaters want less gluten – but they also want it to taste better than cardboard.

With all the advancements in data analytics and understanding of crop genomes, we’re experiencing a unique renaissance in food production where we can cherry pick quality options that can help us live better lives and can taste great in a cheesy animal cracker. So while re-envisioning your pantry as a disease preventer might still seem far off as we bring these new options like GoodWheat to market, we’re imagining a future where you can have your crackers and eat them too – without a gram of guilt.

Sarah Reiter, Chief Commercial Officer