2014 was filled with victories and setbacks for the good food movement. These moments, both good and bad, show us how far we’ve come and what remains to be tackled in 2015. Follow along as we recap the best and worst moments in food, farming and agriculture during 2014.
The Best of 2014
Fat is back.
After decades of playing the villain to the American diet, full fat is back. We’ve been told to cut fats everywhere, from the USDA dietary guidelines to the aisles filled with “low fat” products. But in March 2014 author Mark Bittman made a case for fats. His article “Butter Is Back” published in the New York Times argues that new scientific analysis found no evidence that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. The PLOS One study promoted in 2014 echoed a similar message–full fat dairy is the better choice. The study showed organic whole milk has superior nutritional benefits such as, higher omega-3s and a healthier balance of essential fatty acids. In June fat made another appearance, this time on the cover of Time Magazine. The cover story, “Ending the War on Fat” reveals scientists found it isn’t fat hurting our health, but the overconsumption of carbohydrates and sugars. It’s time to stop blaming fats!
Study finds organic food is more nutritious.
Can the argument over whether organic food is more nutritious finally be laid to rest? After analyzing 343 publications, researchers at Newcastle University found that organic crops were substantially higher in antioxidants, contained significantly less concentrations of toxic metals, and were four times less likely to have pesticide residue. The study, published in July in the British Journal of Nutrition, confirmed what many of us already knew–organic food is better for you.
Organic CAN compete with conventional crops!
In December researchers at the University of California, Berkeley released a new study that set the record straight on the long-believed perception that organic farming cannot produce enough food. The study, which analyzed over 100 studies comparing organic and conventional farming found that crop yields from organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. While researchers argued that organic farming can indeed compete with conventional crops, they made it clear that “Eradicating world hunger requires increasing the access to food, not simply the production.” *Snaps*
The Worst of 2014
What’s a GMO? IDK.
Jimmy Kimmel sent his crew to local farmers markets to ask people why they avoid GMOs, but also, what the letters GMO stand for. The video makes light of a troubling issue: American consumers remain uneducated about their food and where it comes from. Kimmel wasn’t the first to suggest consumers are confused about their food, but he was by far the funniest. Some answers may make you wince.
EPA approves toxic 2,4-D herbicide.
This October, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved a toxic weed killer known as Enlist Duo, despite overwhelming opposition from the scientific and public health community. 35 doctors and scientists warned the EPA against expanding the use of 2,4-D, highlighting “links between pesticide exposure and health problems such as suppressed immune function and greater risk of Parkinson’s disease.” Following the decision 50 members of Congress asked the EPA and USDA to reconsider their approval.
Oregon loses GE labeling by 837 votes.
November 4, 2014, election day, was a mixed day for environmental and public health advocates. Among the measures voted upon was Oregon’s Measure 92, a GE-labeling initiative that would have confirmed Oregon consumers’ right to know whether the foods they purchase are produced with genetically engineered ingredients. After a nail-biting race that drew more contributions than ever before, Measure 92 lost by a mere 837 votes.
Looking back at 2014 we should consider ourselves victorious. Even in moments where we faced defeat, the silver lining is this – it’s not over.. Kidding, the silver lining is this – conversations are being had, people are taking notice and we’re educating ourselves and each other. For the moments we label “worst” of 2014, let’s make change happen in 2015.