“Real” healthy food joints have the edge


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While the healthy fast food trend is now fully powered, there is a difference between familiar chains, which add healthier choices that still rely on processed preparation and ingredients, and the upstarts, which emphasize organic and whole foods. The latter players in this market are built on the concept of providing healthy whole foods, while the cheap food giants are looking for easy means to widen their market footprint. The real potential is with the growing generation of healthy food producers who are just a few years old and only now gaining momentum. Here’s a sampling:

Panera Bread. Whole grain breads, half portions, fresh whole apples as a side and efforts to serve naturally raised chicken have helped Panera carve out a substantial niche.
Freshii. Salads, quinoa, spicy lemongrass soup, brown rice and tofu. Fast-casual setting allows customers to mix and match organic and whole foods to meals on the go.
Chipotle Mexican Grill. Like Subway, customers control exactly what goes into their meal and choices include brown rice, grilled vegetables, and hormone-free meats.
Jason’s Deli. Over 200 locations in the U.S. Known for its emphasis on on organic food: creative salads, healthy potato dishes, whole wheat wraps.
Corner Bakery. Healthy breakfasts, pastas, oven-roasted chicken and European-influenced healthy dishes.

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