The Daily Meal has released its fourth annual list of the 50 Most Powerful People in Food, and the results are a little different than you may expect. Chefs don't appear until Jose Andres at #18 -- after that it's only Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich (#26), Danny Meyer (#35), Thomas Keller (#37), Alice Waters (#39), and Tom Colicchio (#45). Journalists and writers have an even poorer showing, with New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells at #17, followed by Michael Pollan (#34), Food and Wine's Dana Cowin (#40), Mark Bittman (#42), and Bon Appetit's Adam Rapoport (#49).
So who makes up the majority of the list? Well, it's mostly CEOs.
Here's the Top 5:
- Thomas Vilsack, Secretary, USDA
- Hugh Grant, Chairman, President, and CEO, The Monsanto Company
- Doug McMillion, President and CEO, Walmart
- Michael R. Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Food, Federal Drug Administration
- Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, Pepsi
It all makes sense when you consider the criteria, which focuses less on household names and more on people who can make a real difference in food policy or eating habits:
Our ultimate criterion was simply this: Is each person on our list capable, whether by dint of corporate station, media access, moral authority, or sheer personality, of substantially changing, improving, and/or degrading the quality and variety of the American diet or the way we think about it?
There are some interesting choices on there. Tech folks: the CEOs of Yelp (#9), Pinterest (#23), and Instagram (#24). James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a group that transports food throughout the country (#6). Steve Spinner, CEO of United Natural Foods, Inc., a distributor that supplies food to Whole Foods and other natural markets (#30). The CEOs of Feeding America (#31) and Share Our Strength (#33).
Go, read about the folks that really have the power to create change in the food system, whether for better or worse.