Government regulation gave influencers plenty to discuss in recent weeks. Consider the issues raised by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro. The Connecticut Democrat not only questioned changes in poultry food safety inspection, but also took aim at sugary beverages by introducing a tax on sweeteners used in them, vowing to combat the “dual epidemic of obesity and diabetes.”
Other widely-discussed topics included the government’s stance against Salmonella; a U.S. appeals court decision that supports country of origin labeling on meat; and the impact of the Russian ban on food imports. There was also the narrow vote supporting the right to farm in Missouri, which one university professor interpreted as “the agricultural establishment trying to build a firewall against growing consumer concerns.”
The ensuing debates focused on whether the government is doing too much or not enough in its oversight of the nation’s food industry. Read more about these issues and others in this digest of influential voices in food and agriculture.
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.
The past two weeks have been tumultuous for food and agriculture, featuring the convergence of special interest agendas and consumer food trends into a series of high-profile business developments. In particular, Chick-fil-A’s announcement that the chain will begin selling only antibiotic-free chicken by 2019 and the growing importance of gluten-free foods have epitomized the economic viability of the “free from” moniker.
While gluten-free and antibiotic-free are hardly the same, both claims are used to help position a food’s wholesomeness. Claims such as these are among food and dietary trends that romanticize a time that is perceived as simpler and healthier. For instance, the gluten-free trend is closely related to the Paleo Diet, which encourages eating similarly to how our hunting and gathering ancestors ate. Even though such ideas aren’t necessarily supported by science, they’re backed by a complex marketplace that values the image of a quaint, wholesome life.
The last half of February also has seen even more special interest action, a new book criticizing the poultry industry – and new research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Meat Institute suggesting that the role of animal protein in the American diet may be trend-proof.