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Henrik Ennart

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The Dietary Trend That Builds Bridges

New year and new decade: Welcome to the happy 20’s! Well, besides the latent dystopia that rests over us that is. 

Divides and fragmentation are on the rise, even views regarding the food on our plate have become a common reason for increased adrenal secretion. Meals have become politicized. “Tell me what you eat and I’ll say which party you vote for”, some claim to have a knack for. But there also seems to be parts of the food debate that unite opposing parties, I will return to that in a bit.

Eating habits are not just something that most people consider to be very personal, what we put on the plate is increasingly linked to political views as well. In the US, people complain that food items have become party politicized. While liberals and left-wing voters eat quinoa, conservative voters prefer meat.

An article in The Conversation points out that one can no longer even drink beer without revealing one’s ideology. While liberals prefer imports from Germany and Belgium, it has become a conservative honor to drink domestic brews.

Well-known US election analyst David Wasserman has investigated the relationship between election results in the US and the presence of Whole Foods stores and Cracker Barrel restaurants, respectively. The latter serves traditional American breakfasts with pancakes, thick bacon slices, eggs and hash browns.

David Wasserman’s data shows that in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump took home 76 percent of all districts where Cracker Barrel dominates but only 22 percent of districts where there are more Whole Foods stores.

In the 2012 election, Obama won 79 percent of Whole Foods districts versus 29 percent of Cracker Barrel districts. Looking further back, the gap seems to have widened. Now, this is not a causal link, but an interesting co-variation that highlights the role of food in an increasingly polarized society. But is everything on our plates politicized? No, not everything.

A recent survey in the United States examined people’s attitudes towards gluten and which recent president they liked most. The result showed that Donald Trump sympathizers were most likely to avoid gluten, but not far after him were the Barack Obama supporters. In third place came George Bush and then close after Bill Clinton. In other words, no clear tendencies.

So in these divided times, there is at least one dietary trend that unites across borders and has yet to become party-politically charged, namely our concern over gluten, which so many of share.

This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.

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