From Iconoculture: WHAT’S HAPPENING
- While many mainstream consumers are still enthusiastic about food safety, cost and environmental impact, they’ve taken such food activism further and are now using their forks to express a wide range of political, cultural and charitable opinions — all fueled by elbow grease and the speed of social media.
- Accessibility: The term (and concern for) “food deserts” has mainstreamed beyond areas of urban blight and rural poverty. Consumers everywhere have taken action: They’ve fought for food stamps to be accepted at farmers’ markets and built their own community farms in urban African American neighborhoods. Cities are planting fruit trees in public parks with an eye toward long-term fresh-produce availability.
- Charity: As consumers tightened their purse strings during the recession, being charitable became less about writing a check and more about creatively donating time, effort and resources. Food Forward in Los Angeles applied supply-chain principles to have volunteers take donations from consumers with abundant fruit trees and gardens and deliver the fresh produce to nearby food pantries and soup kitchens. In New York City, a mobile food truck gives gallons of milk to poor consumers with hungry kids at home.
- Sustainability: Green living is no longer just about maintaining a small carbon footprint. Today’s Eativists are deeply concerned about the impact of food waste, whether it’s landfills releasing methane gas or squandered resources. Businesses have responded by developing labels that determine when fruit is about to go bad, tightening their supply chains, developing apps to help consumers avoid food waste and enlisting moms in reducing household waste. Consumers are also intensely concerned about the sustainability of their seafood, whether at a sushi restaurant or the fish counter at Whole Foods or Target.
- Gen We: Kids today. These youngsters are taking action to change things in their food universe, whether it’s a protest over healthier school lunches (file under: first-world problems), or an 8-year-old who lost weight and used her experience to help schools offer healthier lunches and inspire her peers to eat better, too.
- Whether it is for political, ethical, or health reasons; people across all generations are now using their personal food decisions to let their voices be heard. Consumers are as passionate as ever about food accessibility, safety, biodiversity, preservation and quality. People are making informed health and food decisions based on more than just mindless hunger, and it is transforming the landscape of the food industry.
- Social media has allowed a myriad of causes and movements to gain legs, and this has had a significant impact on the choices people make for their own health.
- Taking a stand for a cause is important, but it must also be put into perspective as to how that decision will affect one’s health. The key is trying to strike a balance between the right amount of activism with a BalancedHealthy lifestyle.