2010 was a year of raids, recalls, reforms, and a (food) revolution.
Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama embarked on a mission to change the way our kids eat. Congress passed the first major food reform bill in decades, and also signed the Child Nutrition Bill and the Health Care Reform Bill.
Reforms did not tackle the Root Causes
What will these reforms accomplish in a country where the average American drinks a gallon of soda a week, where our grain based (revised) USDA food pyramid continues to advocate low-fat diets – and subsidize and support them along with industrial meat and agriculture, and where small family farmers and food co-ops are raided – (not the source of our most horrible food recalls)?
Some Positive Steps
The U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division began investigating antitrust issues in the agricultural sector and we saw a collapse of Monsanto’s stock price. Real food did manage to infiltrate mass media. The raw milk issue was covered in Time magazine – What’s Fueling the Battle over raw milk?. The LA Times highlighted sugar and carbs for causing our health problems, not saturated fats – A reversal on Carbs, and Jeffrey Smith appeared on the Dr. Oz show educating the public on the issues of Genetically Modified Foods.
More Work to be Done
Our oceans are still a mess – the BP oil spill, the worst oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, wiped out the Gulf Coast fishing industry. Genetically engineered fish are on the brink of being approved – the FDA is not concerned with feeding us Genetically Modified foods and don’t think labeling it is important. Books like Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish strive to educate us with how to preserve our overfished oceans.
We continue to approve cancer causing pesticides (methyl iodide for CA strawberries) and failed to ban harmful chemicals in our food supply (BPA).
This year’s massive egg recall should have been a lesson for what happens when you industrialize animal food production – instead of praising farmers who are doing it right we’re told to overcook our eggs and rejoice that the FDA has the power to mandate recalls (they also believe we don’t have the freedom of food choice).
Though the Food Safety Modernization Act did not get those Iowa chickens back on pasture – the way nature intended – nor does it affect the meat and poultry industry (they are under USDA jurisdiction), local farmers saw more business for their eggs. And these recalls sparked people to rethink where their food comes from – at least those that can afford it. “Voting with our fork” will not make organic broccoli and pastured eggs as accessible as fast food hamburgers. America’s legislation and infrastructure continue to favor industrial food production which makes the wrong foods cheap.
Education and Activism
Our food choices continue to be crucial but not without political activism and education. Social media is creating a better way to do all this.
“In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity into a single network…it has changed the way human beings relate to one another on s species-wide scale.” Lev Grossman.
Time Magazine named Mark Zukerberg, founder of Facebook, 2010 Time Person of the Year. I couldn’t agree more. What facebook is doing for social activism and grassroots organizing could not be accomplished otherwise. Action alerts and news that may not make front page headlines, can go viral in minutes in the virtual world. It’s also allowing personal connections between activists, bloggers, authors, and farmers in a way never seen before.
A Look Ahead to 2011
There is plenty to reflect upon looking back at 2010. Its tragedies and triumphs serves as a wake up call to be thankful for our families, community and security, and serve to inspire us to how much work needs to be done in continuing the quest for a better future for our children.
What do you think were some of the key issues in health and nutrition this year? There is so much more to be said – please add your thoughts below;
(For a fun look back at 2010, check out my list of the best food lists of 2010.)