The Year in Food 2007

I’m Sooooooo Totally Green

The buzzwords of the food industry in 2007 were local, sustainable, and organic. Naturally, all are fairly fuzzy and open to interpretation, but that didn’t dissuade business folk or consumers, all of whom were questing for some combination of a more marketable, more delicious, more conscience-soothing way to eat. The back-to-the-earth vibe manifested itself in restaurants like Picnick in New York, the sustaina-poseur Abode in Santa Monica, and Red Stag Supperclub in Minneapolis; and in grocery stores (Wal-Mart’s new emphasis on organic food; “natural” products like Quaker’s Simple Harvest hot cereal). The boom shows no sign of abating: Market data indicate U.S. sales of organic foods rose 22 percent in 2006. And forecasting predicts still more growth. But the question remains: Is there any way to set tough-and-clear standards that will turn mere words into labels that consumers can trust? —James Norton