Top 10 Food Scandals of 2013

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Years in the future, when we're all sitting around on the front porch in our rocking chairs, sipping spiked teas while our many dogs play in the front yard, someone will bring up the year 2013. And there's a good chance that when they do, someone else will chime in and say, "Yup. That's the year it all changed."

In the past 12 months alone, the battle over GMO use has reached a fever pitch, a new battle pitted between minimum wage fast food workers and their billionaire CEOs grew further and wider than anyone could have predicted, and the war over America's food stamp program became more heated than The Valley in July. But those are just the beginning.

Let's go down the list of this year's food scandals, shall we?

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10. Monsanto slyly taking over the medical marijuana industry.

If it wasn't bad enough that GMO-supergiant Monsanto has been slowly taking over our food supply, this year it was learned they're also coming after our weed, man. Evidently, they see the burgeoning, near-legalized industry as their next possible cash cow, so they've been trying to develop ways to make plants more potent by fiddling with their DNA. Which, as anyone who's experienced medical marijuana can tell you, maybe we don't need more potency?

9. Big Brother heading into the grocery store.

The future is here! And it is scary. The corporate giant behind such snacks as Oreos and Ritz crackers are taking the technology from Microsoft's Kinect controller, sticking it on their boxes, and sending them out into grocery stores to scan customer faces who are thinking about purchasing the products. The idea is they'll use the information to better focus their advertising. Because, one thing we definitely need, is for corporations to have the ability to trick us into eating even more of their salt- and sugar-infused treats.

8. Bacon kills your sperm.

Think you're a big man for loading up your burger with twenty strips of bacon, with a side of bacon-wrapped bacon, before having a little break with half a head of iceberg lettuce (filled with bacon), and then topping it off with a desert of ice cream with sprinkles of bacon on top? Well, good for you to think that. That's nice. Oh, also, maybe take some time to say goodbye to your sperm.

7. Sriracha trying to destroy an entire city

That ubiquitous carton of red sauce now on every counter and table in every restaurant from L.A. to Portland, Maine? Turns out, the production avalanche associated with churning out that many bottles may not be so benign. The residents of Irwindale have lodged a formal complaint against Huy Fong Foods because their eyes, throat and nose are getting irritated due to their annual mashing of peppers at the plant. This is the price we pay for cheap (and delicious) chili sauce!

6. Test-tube meat is on its way.

Fake is the new real. Not only are fake eggs on their way, but science has gotten another step closer to perfecting fake meat grown in a petri dish. The secret ingredient that makes the whole thing go? Unborn cow blood! Bon appetit!

5. California's distilleries finally allowed tasting rooms.

Living in the bastion of liberalism that is Los Angeles, it's easy to forget that the rest of California doesn't necessarily follow suit. (One need look no further for proof of that than the Prop 8 results from 2008.) But who knew that sneaky conservatism would figure its way into what our state's distilleries are allowed to do. For instance, only this year have they been allowed to open their own tasting rooms.

Photo:boudewijnberends/Flickr/Creative Commons License

4. China now controls our pork supply.

As I've detailed quite a few times this year, we Americans like to eat pigs. A whole lot of them. But now, because of highly controversial buy-out of Smithfield Farms by Chinese corporation Shuanghui International Holdings Limited, China now owns a good portion of our pork supply. How much? 3.8 billion pounds of pork per year is "processed" by Smithfield.

3. The continuing fight over GMOs.

If you've kept track of the fight over whether or not GMOs should be labeled, it would seem like a one-sided battle. In every vote casted thus far -- including California's 2012 Prop 37 fight and this year's vote in Washington state -- those on the side of GMO labeling have lost. But that doesn't mean the fight is close to being over. Oregon looks to be the next state up to vote, and citizens will continue to March Against Monsanto to spread the word. So, don't be shocked if this remains in the top five scandals list for the next decade.

2. Fast food workers striking for better wages.

There hasn't been another story with so much forward momentum this year than the fast food strikes. Starting last year with a hundred or so strikers, and then a few hundred over the summer, and then thousands of workers in 35 cities in August, and then even more thousands of strikers in over 60 cities in December... at this rate, everyone will be on strike by 2016, even those not working in fast food.

1. Republicans hate poor people.

The biggest scandal of 2013 leaves the confines of the factory farms, the GMO labs and the fast food parking lots, and enters the stuffy hot air of our nation's Capitol building in D.C. Because that's where, for the past year, the GOP has been putting together a relentless assault on our country's food stamp program. This kind of thing will not only affect the 47 million Americans using the SNAP program, but also upwards of 170,000 veterans on them as well. Luckily, there's a chance that this needless attack on the poorest among us will get a reprieve sooner than later: Another midterm election is upon us next year.


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