Each new year brings new trends in food, eating, and politics. Just what will dominate the American consciousness and be on trend this new year? Here are my predictions for food politics trends in 2013:
1. Genetically-modified foods (GMOs). 2012 marked a banner year for awareness on genetically modified foods. In California, a battle ensued between large food corporations that fought against GMO labeling legislation in the form of convincing tv advertisements, versus organic food organizations like Organic Consumers Association that rolled out its own GMO pro-labeling campaign. The public was left caught in the crosshairs and ultimately decided in a vote on Proposition 37 that GMO foods and ingredients need not be labeled. The vote left real foodies frustrated and perplexed, wondering why consumers would not want to enact the right to know what is in their food.
Questions regarding GMOs surfaced in 2012 — is there a link between GMO consumption and health problems like cancer, organ failure, allergies, and tumors? Even GMO memes on Facebook went viral (GMO salmon, aka: “frankenfish”) and reached a new audience of eaters.
This awareness will continue to grow, and the anti-GMO (or, label GMO) movement will gain more and more momentum in 2013. After all, the repercussions of GMO foods on the earth’s ecology (cross-pollination that’s leading to extinction of native plant species) and the questions regarding the link between such foods and serious illness should at best allow Americans the right to know if a food has been manipulated and make decisions from there.
2. School lunch. New National School Lunch Program guidelines for school lunch released in 2012 “healthified” student’s meal offerings, but was met with resistance from teachers, students and their families. While most can agree that the “pink slime”-type foods served to (public) school-aged children in America needed improvement (more fresh, clean foods, and fewer processed), the new guidelines came off as too strict and have left kids hungry for more food. The fat and calories became restricted in an effort to curb childhood obesity. The problem of course being the general consensus that not all children are obese and not all dietary fat is bad. In fact, some fats, like omega-3’s are necessary for healthy brain function and help us feel full and satiated, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Additionally, no one can be sure that the 850 calories allotted in meals are enough calories to keep students active and alert during class. In 2013, be on the lookout for more debate about these policies.
3. Food as lawns. As consumers become more aware of the “Big” Agricultural system that dominates the food supply in the US, the more they’re getting back to basics and growing their own food. To capitalize on space in small yards, some homeowners turned to growing front lawn food gardens in 2012. The only problem: their respective homeowners associations or city’s codes did not allow such displays. Citizens are defending their right to grow their own food and challenging such restrictive guidelines and laws. After all, while gardening can require skill, determination, time, and an initial financial investment, the benefits of homegrown food (satisfaction, quality, inexpensive produce) far outweigh the cost of grocery store food — whether conventional or organic.
It’s circumstances like these that led to the creation of Food Not Lawns, an organization dedicated to eliminating unnecessary ornamental lawns and replacing them with utilitarian food lawns. 2013 is sure to see more of these gardens.
Liz Schau is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor who specializes in nutritional changes for women with thyroid disease, food allergies, and digestive health concerns. You can find her at LizSchau.com.