1982 The aerobics trend hits mainstream with Olivia Newton-John’s chart-topping single “Let’s Get Physical” and Jane Fonda’s Workout videotape.
1983 The U.S. herbal industry comes into its own with the launch of two organizations: the Herb Research Foundation, a clearinghouse for research and safety information; and the American Herbal Products Association.
1984 Wendy’s, the fast-food hamburger chain, targets meat lovers with its popular “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign, inspiring Walter Mondale to borrow the query during his presidential campaign. « Ann Barr and Paul Levy’s The Official Foodie Handbook (Olympic Marketing) popularizes the term “foodie” to describe those who “consider food to be an art, on a level with painting and drama.”
1985 Naturopathic docs establish their own professional society, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. « Congress launches the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program to inform farmers about how to produce crops without chemicals.
1986 Coca-Cola celebrates its 100th anniversary. « The immunity herb echinacea becomes one of America’s best-selling herbs, with annual sales of 100,000 pounds. « The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows produce to be irradiated to extend shelf life and kill insects.
1987 The seeds for the Wild Oats natural foods supermarket chain are planted with the purchase of Crystal Market, the only vegetarian natural foods store in Boulder, Colorado. « The U.S. Department of Education begins to accredit schools teaching naturopathic medicine.
1988 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) directs money toward developing sustainable farming practices on conventional and organic farms, with the Low-Input Sustainable Agriculture program. « Whole Foods Market, founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, opens its first store outside of the Lone Star State. This New Orleans store is the sixth Whole Foods Market; by 2005, Whole Foods will own and operate 167 stores in North America and the United Kingdom, making it the world’s leading retailer of natural and organic foods.
1989 The Exxon Valdez tanker spills 265,000 barrels of oil in the northern Gulf of Alaska. « Demand for organic produce increases dramatically, thanks in part to a National Resources Defense Council’s report publicizing the Alar pesticide scare. « The American Holistic Health Association is born.
1990 Congress passes the Organic Foods Production Act, forcing the USDA to set standards for how organic foods must be grown and processed. « The Dean Ornish, MD, Program for Reversing Heart Disease (Ivy) ignites a major low-fat trend. « Newly published results of botulinum toxin studies pave the way for the wrinkle-banishing Botox craze.
1991 The USDA introduces a new Food Guide Pyramid, which promotes consumption of more grains, fruits, and vegetables, and less meat and dairy. « Delicious Living begins publishing on recycled paper.
1992 The National Institutes of Health (NIH) forms the Office of Alternative Medicine, encouraging research and further legitimizing complementary and alternative medicine in America.
1993 More than 30 percent of Americans visit alternative health practitioners annually, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The FDA approves bovine growth hormones for milk production.
1994 President Clinton signs the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, guaranteeing public access to dietary supplements including amino acids, herbs, vitamins, and minerals. Congress thereby asserts a connection between dietary supplements and good health. The NIH selects Seattle’s Bastyr University as the national center for research on alternative treatments for HIV/AIDS. Celebrities start wearing milk mustaches in a dairy-industry ad campaign.
1995 Barry Sears, PhD, and Bill Lawren spawn an athlete-inspired diet trend with The Zone (ReganBooks). Delicious Living goes online (www.deliciouslivingmag.com).
1997 The updated version of Robert Atkins, MD’s circa-1972 low-carb diet hits best-seller lists, where it stays for 400 weeks. The USDA finally releases the national organic standards to be applied to both domestic and imported products, a year after unpasteurized Odwalla juice kills a Colorado girl and sickens more than 50 others. Scientists clone Dolly the sheep at the Roslin Institute in Scotland.
1998 Margarine celebrates the 125th anniversary of its patent. Andrew Weil, MD, publishes his best seller 8 Weeks to Optimum Health (Ballantine), and Christiane Northrup, MD’s revised Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (Bantam) goes on to sell more than 1.25 million copies.
1999 Fat-phobic Americans turn to liposuction in droves. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, the number of liposuction procedures climbs 62 percent between 1998 and 1999, from 373,000 to 599,000 procedures per year. « The FDA permits labels to carry the claim that soy protein may reduce the risk of heart disease; soy products fly off the shelf.
2000 More than 18,000 people file “adverse event” reports with the FDA after eating chips, desserts, and fat-free cooking oils containing olestra. Proctor & Gamble and Frito-Lay subsequently battle the FDA, seeking to repeal the health notice indicating “olestra may cause loose stools and abdominal cramping.”
2001 The National Center for Health Statistics reports that nearly half of all postmenopausal women in America use hormone replacement therapy (HRT). « And 2.4 million Americans now practice Pilates, according to a study by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
2002 A Women’s Health Initiative study on HRT stops abruptly due to a 26 percent increase in breast cancer occurrences among participants taking estrogen and progestin, sparking a massive exodus from HRT. « An herbal sexual performance enhancer called Enzyte hits the markets to compete with Viagra. « The national organic standards are implemented, and products labeled “USDA certified organic” appear on shelves for the first time. « The International Association of Yoga Therapists estimates that 20 million Americans now practice some form of yoga, compared with 6 million in 1994.
2003 Robert Atkins, MD, dies at 72 from head injuries he suffers in a fall. « Arthur Agatston, MD, picks up the low-carb torch with The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss (Rodale). « Energy drink sales are up 39 percent. « The FDA considers banning ephedra supplements after studies link the herb to heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and death.
2004 The Society for Food Science and Technology expects Americans to buy more bottled water than coffee or beer. « U.S. pet industry sales top $34 million, surpassing sales of both toys and candy.