No Bones About It: Bone Broth is Hot

Despite sounding like a food trend unique enough to rival the “cronut,” the latest health food sensation, bone broth, is actually nothing new. As more Americans step away from processed foods in favor of organic options, the age-old recipe, which simply consists of simmering animal bones for hours or even days to extract their nutrients, is making a comeback in a big way. Independent restaurants across the country—such as Asian Box in Palo Alto, Calif., and New York City’s Brodo, a broth and soup take-out window—have started featuring the hot and healthy treat on their menus within the last few months. And they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Located in Arden, N.C., Medea’s Espresso and Juice Bar started serving bone broth late last year. After moving to Arden in 2013, Medea Galligan and her husband, Dan, noticed the area was lacking in healthy food options. To fill the void, they opened their shop in March 2014, offering cold-pressed, raw, organic juices and a variety of teas and coffees. When the eatery came upon its first winter, Galligan knew she wanted to provide a tasty treat that would possess the health benefits of her juices, sans the chilly side effects. Bone broth was added to the menu to combat the cold weather, but even as the summer months approach, the customer favorite remains a staple. “One of our regulars called and ordered six chicken bone broths yesterday and is coming to pick that up today,” Galligan says on a warm May afternoon.

While all restaurants seem to take a slightly different approach, Galligan’s bone broths, which are offered in chicken and beef varieties, are cooked for two or three days, depending on the type of bones. With a master’s degree in nutrition from Oklahoma State University and a background in health coaching, Galligan easily recognized the importance of going this extra mile to bring bone broth to her customers. “If you eat a steak, it’s going to take your body four to six days to really break it down and to be able to digest, absorb, and use it. Bone broth is almost pre-digested, like fermented foods. When you drink it, all those really important components of the fats and the proteins have been broken down, so your body can use it right away,” she says.

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Though bone broth may sound as though it could be easily replaced by store-bought broth, Galligan is quick to point out its standout qualities. She lists calcium, magnesium, and collagen among the healing properties that packaged broth cannot replicate. “There’s a huge difference. You’re not going to get nutrients from a synthetic powder. You’re only going to get them from the bones of animals that were given lean food and were raised properly,” she explains. “This is what people did prior to our modern food system that is dependent on chemicals.”

Galligan sees the recent uptick in interest for the broth as a movement toward healthier living, rather than just the latest diet craze. “It’s not just a trend. It’s not like, ‘Oh, mojitos are in this year and next year it’s margaritas.’ It is a revolution that is happening because people are finally sick of being sick,” she says. “I do think it’s growing, and it will continue to grow.”