Beyond the restaurant openings , closings and chef transitions which helped make Seattle a different place to eat in December 2012 than December 2011,


The 2012 Food News Which Will Matter in 2022

Beyond the restaurant openings, closings and chef transitions which helped make Seattle a different place to eat in December 2012 than December 2011, the city's food scene this year was transformed by a series of events which didn't transpire in kitchens. Here, a look back at five news stories from 2012 which are likely to have a lasting influence on the way we eat and drink.

1. Seattle issues a Food Action Plan

There was a strong self-congratulatory component to the Seattle Food Action Plan, issued in October, but the city came by its arrogance honestly. Seattle's established itself as a leader in municipal nutrition, supporting community gardens and backing programs which allow food stamp users to stretch their budgets further when shopping at farmers markets. What the plan says is the city's pleased with the results, and believes still more can be done.

The plan calls for strengthening the P-Patch program (a recommendation which led directly to yesterday morning's mayoral announcement of 185 new plots), expanding the Farm-to-Childcare program, making it easier to utilize vacant land for agriculture and planning transportation networks to obliterate food deserts. But, most importantly, it calls for the city to continue prioritizing the health of its citizens and sustainability of its environment.

2. Tom Douglas wins the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurateur

A four-time finalist, Douglas this May finally took home the biggest prize from the restaurant world's biggest awards competition. What's significant about the recognition is it serves as a long-overdue validation of Douglas' methods, which include an admirable commitment to sustainable agriculture and social justice. Although Douglas was already comfortably ensconced in the culinary stratosphere, the award (and the Best Chef Northwest award which Matt Dillon picked up the same night) also helps cement the city's standing as one of the nation's great food cities. That's a status which comes with extraordinarily positive aesthetic and economic consequences for everyone in Seattle.

Lalo Martins

3. Liquor shows up on grocery store shelves

Voters last year approved I-1183, but liquor sales weren't fully privatized until June. As opponents of the measure predicted, prices went up: According to the Department of Revenue, the average cost of a liter of spirits rose from $21.58 to $24.09 between September 2011 and September 2012. But cocktail prices held fairly steady, creeping up at the typical pace.

While the uptick in prices might help explain why Oregon liquor stores near the state border reported increased sales in June (and why rates of liquor theft are on the rise), most drinkers weren't discouraged by the new taxes. The volume of liquor sold between June and September were 3 percent higher than during the same period the previous year. Still, it's probably too early to assess what the law will ultimately mean for consumption patterns.

4. Downtown gets a food truck pod

Seattle in 2011 adopted food truck legislation intended to invigorate the mobile segment of the city's eating scene, but allowing trucks to park on public property didn't immediately lead to an upsurge in truck permits or pod arrangements. So the creation of a pod at Second Avenue and Pike Street was hugely exciting for folks who'd like to see more trucks on Seattle streets: There are now as many as four trucks parked in the very central location at lunch and dinner hours, six days a week. Portland's legendary food truck culture sprung from a single pod, and believers say Seattle's downtown pod could spawn the same.

5. Randy Santel eats a 72-ounce steak

OK, maybe demolishing the Wedgwood Broiler's steak challenge doesn't belong in the same category as far-reaching liquor legislation and city efforts to combat childhood obesity. But the restaurant's challenge stood unbeaten for 47 years before a Missourian successfully chewed his way through it. That's two generations of steak lovers fantasizing about claiming the title for themselves. The city's red meat scene is forever changed. Really.

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