A Look Back at 2012’s Biggest Food Trends

They say you can’t go forward without first knowing where you’ve been—and this is perhaps most true in our ever-evolving food system. What were the biggest food trends of 2012? Forbes Magazine chimes in with its assessment.

“Food waste, humane animal treatment (including antibiotic use) and food labeling all took the leap and are now common household topics,” writes Beth Hoffman.

These issues, Hoffman states, are “of great importance” and provide, “hope for real change in the food system. “

Food waste became a hot-button issue in 2012, “Turns out a full 30 percent of fruits and vegetables are often not even harvested (especially fruits like nectarines and plums), and another 30 percent maybe tossed simply because they don’t look perfect (yet are still perfectly edible).”

Likewise, the way we treat animals in the food system, while still a long way from perfect, has become a talking point for many consumers, supermarkets and restaurants. McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s all announced a move away from the use of gestation crates in hog facilities. McDonald’s also announced a commitment to cage-free eggs.

California’s Proposition 37, which failed to pass in November, would have made it the country’s first state to require labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients. Although it failed (by a narrow 6 percent margin), it did bring much light to the discussions about what’s in our food, and also why consumers are interested in seeing food labeled. DIY labeling has cropped up and a petition to the FDA has more than one million signatures. And it broadened the discussion on other labeling issues, according to Hoffman: “Several class action suits made it into court this year questioning “all natural” labeling, and brands as seeming diverse as Ben and Jerry’s, Frito-Lay, and Tropicana are all currently defending how processes and ingredients not found in nature can be called ‘natural.'”

Technology has played in role in perpetuating these changes, using the internet and mobile phone apps for education and discussion purposes on the topics as well, says Hoffman, ” to inspire each other to act, and buy, better.”

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: geirt