Power hungry

Who wields the most influence in American food?

February 1, 2011

Food site The Daily Meal recently compiled an idiosyncratic list of the 50 most powerful food folk in America. Some are obvious, such as Martha Stewart, Michael Pollan, Rachael Ray, Alice Waters, and Michelle Obama. More intriguing are the behind-the-scenes players, such as Gregory R. Page, the CEO of Cargill, and Michael R. Taylor, the Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

As editor Colman Andrews explained,

In the food world, the people with power are the ones who affect what and how and where and why we eat — or who can, if they want to. They’re the agribusiness moguls who decide what gets grown and how it gets harvested and sold; the representatives of major food processing, distribution concerns, and retail food outlets who create new products and service the demand for edibles old and new. They’re the scolds and nannies — and admirable consumer advocates — who tell us what we should and shouldn’t eat, sometimes upending whole industries in the process.

Quaintest choice? The ranking of “You” at the top of the list — which, naturally, provoked many readers into offering their own suggestions for influencers left off the original list, including Mark Bittman and Marion Nestle.

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