At the end of another year, I look back to the road I travelled and look forward to the road ahead. Despite the prolonged pandemic, 2021 felt more normal than 2020. I returned to work at the food pantry. My wife and I, vaccinated and boosted, started eating some meals out. We welcomed our first house guests back to visit us. I returned to getting an organic veggie box once a week. I will keep you posted. Closer to normal, but not normal yet! Oops, here comes Omicron and the news that 75% of COVID-associated deaths were people 65 and older. Yikes!
Themes. During 2021 I introduced some new themes to the site. Food addiction gained traction this year. Is it real or a repackaging of eating disorders and other food maladies? Also, I questioned what the future of food will be post-COVID. I continue to pursue the interface between food and culture. This past year I extended the pursuit to Black food and its heritage. Topics that resurfaced this year were food pantries and ultra-processed foods. Obesity lurks behind every discussion of processed food. Who or what do we blame for its cause? What can we do to reduce it in the American population? Ingredients are the fundamental units of many manufactured foods and home-cooked meals. I focused on sugar, that much-maligned and much-craved food ingredient. Do its health effects differ when present in fresh fruit, added in the processing plant, or added at home?
Milestones. 2021 was the sixth calendar year of the blog. The 250th post appeared in July. After a doubling of views from 2019 to 2020, the number of views in 2021 only exceeded 2020 by 10%. Is the site plateauing? Has it past its peak? Time will tell.
At the end of the last year, I resolved to “stop referring to chemicals in food.” I also vowed to “try to be more sympathetic to other points of view.” I am doing better on both resolutions, but I am not there yet. For 2022, I resolve to resist the temptation to comment on Linked In. I become too rushed and too emotional to provide a reasoned response. I also plan to delve into supply chains in the coming year.
Best books reviewed in 2021. The most futuristic one, Uncharted, describes an uncertain future in a post-pandemic world. Big Hunger was the he most controversial book. Most influential for me was Seeds of Science. It proposes GMOs as the solution to Africa’s hunger challenges. The Book of the Year, Black Food Matters, shows the importance of culture in food choice. That is why the incorporating a client’s culture is so important in designing a dietary plan.
Top Ten posts viewed in 2021
- Veganism: The Good the Bad and the Ugly by Ari Kenney
- Fast food and its effect on regional cuisines
- My personal experience with Hello Fresh
- How Big Food hides undesirable chemicals in its clean labels
- Food waste from two different perspectives
- Challenges in handling perishable foods in small stores that sell food on the side
- Are we eating real food or edible food-like substances?
- Plastic versus Food Waste – Which is worse? by Susan Chen
- Why are foods processed? Extending shelf life
- Food deserts, food swamps, food apartheid, grocery gaps and other names for food maldistribution
Biggest surprise? None of the Top Ten posts came from this year’s offerings. The top post published this year was my tribute to Dr. Aaron Brody. Veganism topped the list for the second year in a row, and the margin between it and fast food was not even close. Only two posts broke into the Top Ten this year (both ones on food waste). It is obvious that my readers are not as obsessed with ultra-processed foods or climate change as I am. My book reviews are not that popular, either, but they set the tone for the posts that follow each month. Thanks to guest bloggers and commenters who either challenged or supported my viewpoints. On to 2022.
Breaking news: Linn Steward alerted me to a series of Great Debates in Nutrition published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The debate this year tackled food addiction and its possible role in obesity. Forthcoming is one on ultra-processed foods and dietary guidelines. Do these themes sound familiar?
Next week: Food Routes and how supply chains function in food networks