As a discipline, politics in the U.S. is like a pendulum that swings back and forth, from left to right and right to left. When the American people aren’t happy with their starting line-up of Washington Senators, they aren’t afraid to pull the trigger and make a trade. This reality has cemented a certain culture in D.C. where the No. 1 goal of many elected officials is to get re-elected. People like myself have come to expect the consequences—like getting candy at Halloween, along with a stomachache.
President Obama’s campaign slogan of “Change You Can Believe In” was quite obviously ambitious. I was, and still am I suppose, cautiously optimistic. But passing a healthcare reform bill was a significant accomplishment, and one that Democrats should have stood behind more ostensibly, in my opinion. I was more skeptical of the President’s pledge to “change the culture in Washington.” Whether it’s political process or something simpler, like food (or what passes for food these days), a country’s cultural identity can’t be changed overnight with a wave of some magic wand.
Recently I had a conversation with a friend who lives in France. When the discussion turned to my job, we talked about the value of dietary supplements and functional food. She shook her head and said that Americans should just eat healthier and exercise. It’s hard to argue with that. The U.S. is the fattest country among those involved in a recent study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which projected that three out of four people in the U.S. will be overweight or obese within 10 years. That—along with “the numbing weight of our politics,” as President Obama put it in his State of the Union Address this year—is a reflection of our culture, unfortunately. People are going to keep eating junk food, just as Washington will continue to spew garbage politics, election cycle after election cycle. This is who we’ve become.
On the bright side, I think many Americans also understand the cost of getting sick and are more willing to buy into preventative measures. Demand for functional foods has continued in the U.S., and Europe for that matter, although the recession has cut into growth rates, according to a new report from Global Industry Analysts. Experts anticipate the market will rebound quickly, once the economy recovers.
So the forecast looks good for the nutraceuticals industry. Still, I don’t believe we’ll be much healthier as a nation, just like I don’t expect much from Congress—no matter which way the political pendulum swings—unless real change takes place. Cue the magic wand.