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The top 5 food stories of 2011

By Matthew Thompson, December 13, 2011 - 12:21pm

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It's been a big year in food news. Here's a look, in no particular order, at 5 of the food trends of 2011, the stories that propelled them to the top and what you can learn from them:

1. The USDA’s Food Pyramid Turned Into MyPlate
After years of helping us make healthy eating decisions with its famous Food Pyramid, the USDA changed its favored icon of healthy eating in June to… (drumroll please) a dinner plate. Intended to help Americans visualize the right balance of fruits, grains, vegetables, meat and dairy, the new design did away with the counting of servings that was central to their old model—will future generations even know what it means to “get your 5 a day” of vegetables? Though the emphasis on balance is a fantastic step in the right direction, the USDA’s icon certainly had some holes in it. Get the inside scoop on MyPlate’s pros and cons from our Nutrition Editor.

2. A Deadly Listeria Outbreak Reminded Us Why Food Safety Is So Important
In September, many Americans were troubled to learn that their cantaloupe had the potential to kill them. An outbreak at a Colorado farm—considered the worst in U.S. history—resulted in a horrific 29 deaths. This outbreak, which came on the heels of a rash of European E. coli cases, served to starkly highlight the importance of food safety in the United States. Concerned about whether your food is safe to eat? Check out EatingWell’s 10 Kitchen Rules You Should Follow.

3. Pizza Became a Vegetable
OK, obviously it didn’t really. But for a few weeks in November, a congressional battle over the nutritional standards for school lunches sure made it seem that way. The problem came down to tomato paste: the White House wanted to close a loophole that counted 1/8 cup of tomato paste as a serving of vegetables and Congress blocked that change (the normal standard for a serving is ½ cup). The practical upshot: a slice of cheese pizza can now be counted as containing a serving of vegetables. Our advice: pack your kids a nutritious lunch you make at home.

4. Gulf Seafood Became Safe to Eat…Or Not
In May, we were heartened to hear that, more than a year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a panel of scientists, environmentalists and representatives of the fishing community at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's annual Cooking for Solutions Sustainable Foods Institute agreed that Gulf seafood is safe to eat. The pleasure was short-lived, however, as just a few weeks later new reports emerged about possible long-term effects to the reproductive health of sea animals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Don’t Miss: 6 of the Healthiest Fish and Shellfish to Eat, 6 to Avoid

5. America Got Serious About Toxins in Food
Just a few years ago, almost no one had heard of things like “BPA,” “phthalates” or “dioxins.” But a number of studies and investigative reports this year—including EatingWell’s own feature in the September/October issue, “Going Clean”—have pushed this issue into the country’s consciousness. Now it seems like you can’t go a week without an item about toxins popping up in the news. All of this culminated on December 7, when the FDA announced it would make a ruling on the risks associated with BPA. This awareness has contributed to a trend in BPA-free glass water bottles, but it has also caused a great many Americans to take a serious look at the safety of their kitchen and home. Interested in going clean? Here are 7 Simple Ways to Detox Your Diet and Your Home!

Photo Credit: Brand X Pictures: Getty Images

What do you think was the biggest food news of the year? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Matthew Thompson, Food News Blog, Food & health news

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