In the food world, the people with power are 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.
Some wield a traditional form of power, like the key figures in the governmental agencies concerned with the economics and the safety of our food supply; some have more ephemeral might, like the media stars and public figures who sway our food opinions and stimulate our appetites today but might well be gone tomorrow. The food-powerful include the chefs and restaurateurs who ignite food trends, introduce us to unfamiliar products and culinary notions, and establish the standards we come to expect for the preparation and the serving of food; they also include the journalists who report on all of the above…
Any catalogue of powerful people - and certainly any ranking of them in order of clout - is bound to be highly subjective, of course. That doesn't mean that it has to be arbitrary. The Daily Meal editors collaborated to assemble our initial list, then added and subtracted, fine-tuned and developed. We did extensive research and had endless discussions and occasionally strenuous debates. One thing that was clear from the beginning was that the most influential figures in the field weren't always the best-known, and that CEOs could wield more might than celebrities.
Our ultimate criterion was simply this: Can this person, whether by dint of corporate position, media access, moral authority, or sheer personality, substantially change, improve, and/or degrade the quality and variety of the American diet or the way we think about it?
Who do you think are the most powerful people in food? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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