A Glimpse Into 2013 Food Politics

If this week is any indicator, food politics in 2013 will tackle a lot of the same issues that were batted around in 2012. Genetically engineered salmon remains a hot-button issue that just got even more controversial, farmers are waiting for a new farm bill, Mark Bittman and other advocates continue to combat America's growing waistlines, and China still provides us with the occasional terrifying food safety headline. See what's in store for 2013 below:

Genetically Engineered Salmon (a.k.a Frankenfish) May Be On Menus Soon

Could genetically engineered salmon wind up on your plate in 2013? Possibly, but not without a fight. In late December the FDA released a draft environmental assessment asserting that GE salmon, known as AquAdvantage, was safe to eat. This doesn't mean the fish has been approved to serve, but it does mark a major step in that direction, to the horror of critics who have dubbed the product "Frankenfish." For an in-depth look into the assessment and the concerns it raises, see Dr. Marion Nestle's post on the subject. Or read the draft for yourself this month while it's still subject to public comment.

Still Waiting For A New Five-Year Farm Bill

The beginning of 2013 almost saw us heading over the dreaded "dairy cliff." Had the farm bill not been extended under the fiscal cliff negotiations, dairy policy would have reverted to its 1949 version, which in turn would have led to the doubling of the price of milk. But just because we avoided the dairy cliff doesn't mean farmers, advocates or virtually anyone is pleased with the lack of a new five-year farm bill. Agriculture policy writers Eddie Gehman Kohan and Jerry Hagstrom outline the largely negative reaction to the nine-month extension, which the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition called "a disaster for farmers and the American people."

Californians Free To Sell Food From Home

Despite the grim farm bill news and the 2012 defeat of the proposition to label GMOs, Californians do have something to look forward to in 2013 in the form of a new cottage food law. Food Safety News reports that on January 1st, California became the largest state to put in place a cottage food law, which allows residents to sell any "non-potentially hazardous" foods made from their home kitchens. So those homemade pickles you're so proud of? Now's the time to sell — in California.

China Continues To Face Food Safety Issues

It's no secret that China has had problems with food safety scandals in the past. From pork that glows blue to exploding watermelons, the headlines are enough to make travelers think twice about adventurous eating. Unfortunately, it seems like 2013 may bring more of the same. This week, NPR's The Salt reported that over 30 people became violently ill in Beijing after consuming drug-laced eggplant. The culprits, who spiked the eggplant with a drug called clonidine, were rival restaurant owners.

Mark Bittman Keeps Up Battle Against America's Food Ills

A new year brings new focus to food justice battles. Mark Bittman kicked off 2013 with a call to arms to address sugar consumption and livestock living conditions. And the defeats of 2012? He encourages food advocates to see them as minor setbacks. Plus, as Beth Hoffman notes in Forbes, food justice trends are going mainstream thanks to technology. For more on the food issues facing America today, consult Civil Eats' best food and agriculture books of 2012.