From the White House’s organic garden to grassroots slow food festivals, food is on a lot of minds come election time. Political candidates must decide where they come down on agricultural subsidies, labeling laws, and Frankenfish—to name just a few. Here’s some food for thought this voting season.
Did You Know?
The government is all over your dinner plate. Food, a hotly controversial issue in the U.S., involves a cross section of lobbyist alliances, environmental wars, and national health concerns. Here are some of the big items on the minds of foodies and food activists alike in 2012.
Genetically Modified Foods
The war between science and Big Ag continues as genetically modified food (GMOs) continue to pervade the food system. In the last 12 months, GMO salmon, corn, and soybeans have all made headlines. Love him or hate him, President Obama has displeased plenty of constituents by not standing up to Big Ag. Still, conservatives like former President George W. Bush have a long record of being friendly with Big Ag as well. Candidates’ positions on Big Ag play a big role in their stead with environmentalists, agribusiness, and consumer advocate groups, among others.
Eating habits start at an early age. Maybe that’s why everyone—from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to an anonymous school teacher dubbed Ms. Q.—has an opinion on what kids should be eating. This year, pizza was named a vegetable, and a beef product dubbed pink slime became a household term. The story seems to always stay the same: the food is bad, or it’s bad for you. Even Beyonce shakin’ it to “Let’s Move” can’t solve the problem alone.
Seventy-six million Americans get sick from food-borne illnesses every year; of those people, 5,000 people die. Tasked with regulating nearly everything Americans eat, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't have the bandwidth to do its job, only inspecting the facilities it oversees about once every 10 years. Thanks to a shortage of funds, federal plans to create five new centers to fight food-borne illness in 2012 will likely be delayed. Imports don’t fare much better: Though about one-fifth of food in the U.S. is imported, the FDA only inspects 1 to 2 percent of imports.