Food policy and reform isn’t as slow as it used to be. In fact, for many who are engaged in the debate, going around the government and straight to the manufacturer is a much more direct way to get a response.
Social media is providing the direct highway between consumer and retailer. And food production and manufacturing is changing as a result.
This article in Politico, provides an up close and personal look at the way mommy bloggers and other women engaged in social media are changing food in America.
“In a different era, a stern letter from an angry customer might be answered by a corporate form letter, and that would be the end of it. But now consumers can leverage hundreds of thousands of like-minded people in a short amount of time, and companies are finding that it’s smart business — and politics — to respond quickly and decisively.”
Perhaps the trajectory of this change can be traced to the “pink slime” debacle – where a stay at home mom of two started a petition on change.org to remove lean finely textured beef from school lunch programs. Nine days later, the USDA announced it would allow states to opt out of purchasing ground beef containing the finely textured product.
Now, with Facebook food activists and mommy blogger nutritionists, companies have to take note. Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors have recently posted the ingredients in their beers online in response to the “FoodBabe’s” request. Chipotle has revealed a list of Genetically Modified Foods that they serve in their store, and Subway no longer uses azodicarbonamide, a common dough conditioner, in its bread.
The agricultural industry has been successful at “winning” several issues in the legislature, relying on common sense and science. Those are two things farmers are great at. But with a changing era of food policy where science and common sense are the afterthought, farmers will have to change their tactics to win this war.