Monday, December 06, 2010

Food Trends

The Atlantic publishes its top 10 food trends of 2010. They basically revolve around three themes--people growing or butchering food themselves and pushing food culture both forward and looking back to the past, our terrible food safety system, and obesity.

What does this say about the state of food in America. Not to get all shallow and Tom Friedmanesque with it, but it does seem to replicate the cultural divide that has infected our politics. I definitely admire the desire to eat more of the animal, to find cool new foods, to grow gardens, and to support local producers. But that's not really influencing the larger population and to what extent it is (such as reforming school lunch programs) it's the result of old-school liberal government that is under attack from conservatives. Meanwhile, poor people are growing morbidly obese thanks to the power of the American food industry that provides empty calories for low prices. That same food industry which continues to resist greater government regulation (despite the food safety bill that's passed the House, does anyone really think the bill signed by Obama is going to be in a form anything like it presently looks?), also provides us with tainted food, killing us both through short-term salmonella outbreaks and long-term obesity.

So nothing really new has happened with American food in the last 12 months. Rich people eat healthy foods, poor people eat Cheetos. I'd argue that liberal governmental programs could both provide healthier food to poor people at reasonable prices while more intensely regulating the food industry and undermining the subsidies that allow the corn industry to infect our entire diet. But that's clearly not going to happen.