Archive for March 6th, 2012

On the political scene, today is Super Tuesday. Numerous states will hold primaries to vote on the potential Republican candidate. Whether you consider yourself red or blue, right or left, few of us think about the impact upcoming elections have on our very substance of life—the food we eat. Politics affects many aspects of our food. Elected officials hold sway over availability, safety, and even the healthfulness of what goes into our mouths. What can consumers expect this year?

According to Marion Nestle, nutrition and public policy expert, political leaders are likely to avoid or postpone any issues that may threaten corporate interests.

  • Expect fewer regulations as corporations enjoy carte blanche with public health issues.
  • Expect strong opposition and division over budget cuts or increases in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program. SNAP benefits cost 72 billion in 2011. Supporters struggle to keep the program’s benefits while others promote offerings of more healthful foods.
  • Look for continued fights about food marketing and it effect on childhood obesity. Issues at stake include taxes on unhealthy foods and beverages, front-of-package labeling, and programs to discourage consumptions of sugar-sweetened drinks. The food industry prefers to set its own standards and list positives of products instead of negatives such as warnings on calories, saturated and trans fat, sodium and sugars. The industry will continue to press Congress to block any efforts at control.
  • Observe continued stalemates on food safety issues. Currently, government agencies inspect less than two percent of imported foods and five percent of domestic productions. Small producers feel threatened as easier targets than the mega-producers who have been responsible for many deadly food-related outbreaks.
  • Watch for momentum in food movements. The number of farmer’s markets has exploded, more young people have gone into farming, more interest has surfaced in farm-fresh foods for school lunches, and grassroots community efforts have implemented food programs and legislated local reforms.

Government guidelines and regulations affect all Americans. But don’t expect much to happen until after the November 2012 elections.


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