Category: Climate Change

2015 Year End Retrospective

This edition of Influence Feed ranks the most highly discussed topics from the past six months as well as recent insight from our influencers. GMO labeling took the spotlight, primarily following congressional debates about state and national labeling rules. Food safety grew in volume due to reports about the safety of organic foods as well as an E. coli outbreak at Chipotle Mexican Grill. Influencers also addressed the stewardship of farmland resources in the face of climate change and antibiotic use for food animals.

Additionally, this edition covers recent influencer discussions regarding dietary guidelines, Chipotle’s food safety scares, corporate commitments to cage-free eggs and country of origin labeling.

Chipotle Struggles, SmartLabels and Climate Talks

There is no shortage of influencer activity as 2015 draws to a close. Chipotle returned to the forefront of influencer conversations with a second round of foodborne illnesses. The Grocery Manufacturers Association’s SmartLabel and the Paris Climate Conference also garnered remarkable levels of attention. In addition, the “In Brief” section reflects a flurry of activity, covering an extra five topics.

Antibiotics Progress and Climate Stewardship

National and international groups are working with stakeholders to develop better strategies for tackling complex food issues. In the United States, antibiotic stewardship is drawing industry feedback. Meanwhile, food waste and climate change are prompting commitments from food companies and governments in preparation for United Nations (U.N.) resolutions. Read about these efforts and more in this edition of Influence Feed.

“Ag-gag” in Idaho and GMO “Right to Know”

In recent weeks, activist groups have reinforced a push for greater transparency in the food and agriculture industries. In a ruling that animal rights groups touted as a victory for free speech, a judge overturned Idaho’s “ag-gag” law. Meanwhile, celebrities lobbied the Senate concerning labeling foods with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). See why each side of these issues questioned the other’s motivations in this edition of Influence Feed.

Action on Antibiotics

When the world’s largest fast food chain makes new policy about the food it sources, people listen. That certainly was the case when McDonald’s announced its U.S. restaurants would stop buying chicken raised with antibiotics important to human medicine. See what influencers are saying about the McDonald’s reactions to this and the other biggest stories in food and agriculture 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.

Global Concern, Local Debate

In recent weeks, influencers were fired up by issues as widespread as the global climate and as local as food labeling rules. The Obama administration’s National Climate Assessment, which outlined its position on climate change, attracted the most buzz among influencers. They were quick to relate the issue to the food supply. Worldwide antimicrobial resistance continued to attract influencer coverage as well. Nationally, the Census of Agriculture was released, with influencers finding reasons to celebrate and scour the new data. The agriculture community also debated the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed new rule related to the 1972 Clean Water Act.

On a local level, the new farmers market season prompted lively discussion about trends in purchasing local foods. Also, as expected, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the first law of its kind requiring labels for foods with genetically modified ingredients. Meanwhile, school districts grappled with increased restrictions in school lunch programs for the upcoming year. Read more about the topics, local and far-reaching, that influencers weighed in on.