The Year in Food Policy | Civil Eats

The Year in Food Policy

A look back at some of the important food policy stories of the year.

End of 2016

From a new GMO labeling bill to an uptick in institutional purchasing and an increase in city-level food policy positions, here’s what you might have missed.

The FDA Just Banned These Chemicals in Food. Are They the Tip of the Iceberg?
By Elizabeth Grossman
FDA banned three toxic food packaging chemicals and is considering banning seven cancer-causing food flavoring chemicals, but food safety advocates say the process highlights flaws in the system.

California Soda Warning Label Bill Dies as Research Suggests Efficacy
By Steve Holt
The Sugar War in the Golden State continues as new data shows warning labels could deter soda consumption.

As Bees Die Off, the EPA Shuffles its Feet
By Elizabeth Grossman
The agency says tiny amounts of “neonics” can harm bees and beekeepers file suit over treated seeds.

An End In Sight for the School Food Fight?
By Bettina Elias Siegel
A bipartisan measure has passed that could improve the quality of the food served in schools.

Will This Maryland Bill Get Big Chicken To Clean up its Act?
By Kristine Wong
Environmental groups are working with Maryland lawmakers to hold poultry companies responsible for the manure they produce—the first legislation in the nation to do so.

Can the USDA Force Convenience Stores to Provide Healthier Food for SNAP Users?
By Elizabeth Grossman
Stricter SNAP eligibility rules could improve the selection in small neighborhood stores. Or it could prompt those stores to opt out of the program all together.

How One Groundbreaking Set of Rules is Changing the Food in L.A. Schools and the System Behind It
By Leilani Clark
The Good Food Purchasing Policy specifies that everything the students in L.A. Unified School District eat must be local, sustainable, humane, fair, and healthy. And it’s becoming a model for the nation.

Dispatch from Philadelphia: The City Prepares for a Soda Tax
By Amy McKeever
Some retailers plan to pass the new cost of sugary beverages on to their customers. Others are holding out for a lawsuit.

Congress Passed a New GMO Labeling Bill. How Will it Work?
By Elizabeth Grossman
Confused about what the bill means and how it might change your shopping experience? Here’s our explainer.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

If Your Veggies Weren’t Grown in Soil, Can They be Organic?
By Elizabeth Grossman
A new report by a government task force on hydroponic farming has left this raging debate wide open.

Cities Hire Food Systems Experts To Address Obesity, Food Access
By Rachel Cernansky
At least 22 cities, from Baltimore to Denver, have created leadership roles for change-makers focused on food.

Some Low-Income Kids Face a ‘Nutrition Gap’ Before Starting School
By Lela Nargi
A new study shows that thousands of children experience food insecurity in the year between aging out of WIC benefits and starting school, where they can receive free or reduced-cost lunch.

It’s Now Legal to Share Seeds in California
Kristine Wong
The state just became the fourth to pass a law making it legal to swap seeds and collect them in non-commercial libraries.

Will This New Bill Level the Playing Field for Urban Farms?
By Jodi Helmer
Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow just introduced urban farming legislation in anticipation of the 2018 Farm Bill. Will it stick?

Opposing Soda Taxes, For a Price
By Andy Bellatti
When dietitians get paid to tweet against soda taxes, it’s a good sign that something larger is going on.

Want to Understand Trump’s Rise? Head to the Farm.
By Siena Chrisman
For many angry rural voters, Donald Trump is fueling a fire that started with the farm crisis of the 1980s.

Thank you for being a loyal reader.

We rely on you. Become a member today to read unlimited stories.

How Hungry Kids Will Fare Under Trump
By Bettina Elias Siegel
President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress will likely walk back most of the progress made on school food and nutrition programs in recent years.

If Trump Goes Hard on Immigration, Who Will Grow, Process, and Serve Our Food?
By Elizabeth Grossman
Workers are worried about Trump’s immigration policies, and so are some in industry.

Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

More from

Food Policy


A farmer harvests coffee beans in a plantation along the Mekong River in Thailand. (Photo credit: Sutiporn Somnam, Getty Images)

Climate Solutions for the Future of Coffee

In the face of severe climate change, farmers, researchers, and coffee devotees are refocusing on agroforestry and developing hardier varieties and high-tech beanless brews to save our morning cup of Joe.


Far From Home, the Curry Leaf Tree Thrives

Zee Lilani of Kula Nursery stands among her curry leaf tree starts in Oakland, California. (Photo credit: Melati Citrawireja)

A Guide to Climate-Conscious Grocery Shopping

Changing How We Farm Might Protect Wild Mammals—and Fight Climate Change

A red fox in a Connecticut farm field. (Photo credit: Robert Winkler, Getty Images)

Across Farm Country, Fertilizer Pollution Impacts Not Just Health, but Water Costs, Too

An Illinois farmer fertilizes a field before planting. (Photo credit: Scott Olson, Getty Images)