Month: July 2014

Uncovering Data, Fueling Insights

Influencers explored boundaries regarding what’s necessary, reasonable and appropriate when it comes to managing food. Recent discussions include the ongoing hot topic of school lunch, long-term global food production priorities, food safety issues in China, and domestic animal agriculture practices.

As often is the case, it’s not just the information that’s debated but also the motivation behind it. At the top of the list is a review of research regarding the benefits of organics, questioned not only because of who funded the study but also because of the premise: Are organics prized by some consumers based on nutrition, or is it because of production values? The Guardian wrote of one scientific analysis, “The findings will bring to the boil a long-simmering row over whether those differences mean organic food is better for people, with one expert calling the work sexed up.”

You’ll find plenty of debates simmering in this edition of Influence Feed.

Midyear Reflections; Standards and Solutions

This edition of Influence Feed highlights the most highly discussed topics from the first half of the year in addition to providing recent insight from our influencers. After analyzing tens of thousands of communications, some clear leading topics emerged among influencers in 2014: sustainability, food regulation, genetically modified organisms and organic food. Government-led initiatives, agriculturalist feedback and activist responses all had a large impact in discussions of those topics. Additionally, foodborne illness received heavy news coverage following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports and several large recalls that prompted government intervention.

In recent weeks, food safety concerns and fears have dominated influencer conversation. As the latest episode in a year of dealing with Salmonella Heidelberg, Foster Farms issued a recall of some of its chicken. Noted seafood author Paul Greenberg released American Catch — a book documenting the questionable sources of our seafood supply. Meanwhile, a study from Cornell University identified fears — often unfounded — that drive purchasing decisions of food consumers, while a cover story in Bloomberg Businessweek delved into the workings of Monsanto, a company often viewed with suspicion and distrust. Read more about influencer reactions to these concerns.

Food Policy in the Spotlight

Our eating habits are in the spotlight. From reporting new research to advocating calls for urgent action, the media understands that consumers want more information about food. That’s why the changing nature of how we’re consuming food is the major theme for this edition of Influence Feed.

“Food has become America’s all-consuming passion,” writes Bruce Horowitz in a June 4 USA Today article. “Blame it on the Food Network. Blame it on a culture of celebrity chefs whose names are no longer limited to Wolfgang. Blame half on Whole Foods. Blame it on a generation of Instagram-loving Millennials, many of whom would rather post a photo of themselves eating a veggies Thai lettuce wrap than lounging on a Thai beach. Food is the new cool. Food is consuming us” (emphasis added).

In recent days, we saw a series in The Wall Street Journal focusing on “How We Eat.” Butter made the cover of Time magazine in a piece rethinking how we look at fat. Things we once took for granted are under fire, including whether our cereal has too many vitamins and minerals. After decades of being vaguely defined, the word natural is under assault.

Influential voices are weighing in on all these issues, and you’ll find them in this latest summary of the conversations focusing on food and agriculture.