Once upon a time, sales of organic and natural products were growing in double digits most years. Enthusiastic grocers and venture capitalists prowled the halls of trade shows looking for the next big thing. Grass-fed beef? Organic baby food? Gluten-free energy bars?
But now, shaky consumer spending is dampening the mood. It turns out that when times are tough, consumers may be less interested in what type of feed a cow ate before it got chopped up for dinner, or whether carrots were grown without chemical fertilizers -- particularly if those products cost twice as much as the conventional stuff.