We’ve known for some time that we have an obesity problem in America. We’re constantly on the search for foods that taste great and have zero calories. You probably never thought the solution to this quest would come from, of all places, New Orleans.

Over the years, we’ve come up with diets of every type and flavor you can imagine. But as a nation, we’re not getting slimmer or healthier. We’ve tried to lay the blame on our over-weight and ill-health on many things. Including carbs, fats, and processed foods. Lately, we’ve come to lay the blame on sugar.

A few years ago, food and drink manufacturers started offering products made with low sugar, no-sugar, or sugar alternatives. Most of these products have been met with consumer resistance because they either don’t taste good, or the sugar substitute is a synthetic chemical that is perceived as worse for your over-all health than sugar. The holy grail here is going to be an all-natural sugar substitute, that is equal in taste to sugar and can be used in equal quantities as sugar. But has zero calories.

I hope you’re sitting down. Because Peter Ricchiuti is going to tell you that not only does that product exist, but that the company that has created it is here in New Orleans. It’s called Swerve. It’s in 4,000 stores across America. And it’s just getting warmed up.

Zero Calories poster girl and CEO of Swerve

Andress Blackwell – CEO of Swerve and walking billboard for zero calories

Andress Blackwell is President and CEO of Swerve.

It’s possible you’ve already heard of Swerve. If so, that’s the result of Swerve’s marketing company, Trumpet Advertising. Trumpet was founded in 1997. Today they have up to 30 employees in their Mid City headquarters and, like the musical instrument its named after, Trumpet Advertising is universal but with a distinctly New Orleans sensibility which includes traits not commonly associated with advertising and marketing: a dogged approach to integrity and honesty.

Scott Couvillion, Trumpet Advertising, zero calories 100% integrity

Scott Couvillion, Trumpet Advertising – zero calories 100% integrity

Scott Couvillion is a Principal at Trumpet Advertising. He’s been there since 2004.

Scott Couvillion, Andress Blackwell, Peter Ricchiuti Out to Lunch at Commander's Palace

Scott Couvillion, Andress Blackwell, Peter Ricchiuti – when you start with zero calories there’s nowhere to go but up

Out to Lunch is recorded over Lunch at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Photos by Jill Lafleur .

More conversation over lunch about healthy eating New Orleans style is here.

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