Consider this your personal public service announcement: today is the first day of November and tomorrow is Election Day. It is a mid-term election and every seat in the United States House of Representatives is up for re-election, which means *your* representative is up for re-election. Make sure you take time to vote and get your snazzy “I Voted Today” sticker.
Since I lived in Washington, DC for more than a decade and worked on Capitol Hill for more than 8 of those years, Election Day is always something that piques my interest. I was never a truly political animal, preferring the policy work to the political debates and squabbles, but I loved the excitement that surrounded election results, even when I was on the losing side.
I got to thinking recently how food purchase decisions are like votes (actually, I think I first saw this idea suggested on an organic snack food box). When you purchase items, your purchasing trends are pooled together with the purchases of other neighbors and peers and trends are extrapolated. For instance, food manufacturers know that highlighted statements on packaging such as “no high fructose corn syrup” and “trans-fat free” help sell food.
Things change with food and how it is harvested, sometimes processed, marketed and purchased. Think of it this way: when you were a child, did your parents seek out foods without high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils? Did you parents even know that high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oils existed? Probably not, and yet one could argue that despite the influx of processed foods in our adulthood, even more “mystery ingredients” existed during our childhood.
Over the past couple of decades better food labeling and information gathering has developed. As this occurred, more and more consumers have become aware of what they purchase and eat, and consequently, made decisions based on this information. These aggregate food consumer decisions have no doubt affected what food companies produce for the future, and how they market such foods.
So as you prepare to vote on the election ballot tomorrow, take a minute to think about how you plan to vote with your shopping cart. Your vote can make sure that as our food arena continues to change, the change will be for the better.