No, I am not Jean Dixon (is she still alive?). But each year I take a shot at predicting what's ahead. Some times I am just hopeful such as my 2008 projections including the decline of Rachel Ray overload, and sometimes I nail it right on such as the reduction of HFCS as an ingredient.
Of all my forward-looking, I would say I was most pleased to see this one come about. Back in July, I posted a rant that we should tax junk food and soda and use the revenue to fund health care. Similar to a cigarette tax, this would help decrease the consumption of unhealthy foods as well as offset the massive toll the obesity crisis has had on health care costs. I was shocked and delighted to see that NY Gov. David Patterson proposed an 18 percent sales tax on soda just this month. I would love to see this get passed. It likely won't, but it will start a trend and just like banning trans fats and putting calories on fast food menus, it will eventually succeed.
Health Care Costs According to Your Habits
No secret the health care system is in turmoil. If the current diabetes/obesity epidemic continues, there is simply no way the system can absorb the costs. Look for health insurance cost breaks for people who eat right, stay the right weight, stay healthy, and don't smoke. Look for penalties and increased costs for those who don't make healthy habits part of their lives. In fact, I see a lot more ahead where we Americans have to be accountable for our actions.
Return of Real Food
I guess I am dreaming, but I always have to put this one forward. The economy is down and people are eating at home more, it's not out of the question. Additionally, this idea of cooking real food at home goes hand-in-hand with our nation's own struggle to get back to what is real and right. I will put this one forward once again.
Meat has been the centerpiece of the American meal, but a growing awareness of the environmental toll this dietary approach has will shift to a new embrace of vegetables. Maybe not a total shift to vegetarianism, but certainly putting the green back on the plate both for our health and our planet. Maybe it's just my optimism, or maybe it's that we will have a president who likes broccoli running the show. Either way, time to get reacquainted with the forgotten food group! Look for more creative vegetable recipes from me in the coming year.
With a renewed political spirit in our nation, not unlike the Kennedy years' "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You," the coming year will see a new focus on being involved in our communities, our state politics and our national politics. Grab your bootstraps, kids. As for myself, I have volunteered to be on planning committees for a community garden and this year's urban farm tour. I will also be taking the eating local philosophy into more volunteer projects, and highlighting inspiring food justice issues (and the people behind them) here on the site. One guy in the white house isn't going to be enough for all the changes we need. It is up to us still.
Well, you got the main one for me — more community involvement. I will be documenting the work here on the site in the hopes that others will share their stories and inspiration, too. I also got spread too thin this past year with my work at eatdrinkbetter.com. I've shifted some of that weight and will be spending more time here with you and hope to add some cool new features to the blog in the coming year.
On the personal side, for me, more yoga and getting back into shape. I've finally realized that I will just have to pry bits and pieces of time for it instead of trying to find a whole hour or more. Just not realistic. What is real is my almost high cholesterol level (genetic!) and the fact that I really do want to stick around to see how my kid turns out. And survive my 40s without aging too much. I'll post a bit about my efforts on that front as well.
Wishing You a Happy New Year
It's been a rough one, not without a few history-making bright spots, though. This is the worst shape I have ever seen my country in, economically, morally, health-wise, infrastructure, technology-wise, environmentally. The years past that got us here were brutal. I've watched friends lose jobs, lose one another, watched the death of good ideas and the growth of violence. I think we are all a bit ready for the turning of the year and good changes ahead. I hope those changes help us all, that we help each other, and that we can all be a force of change for good in the coming year. My best to you.