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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

January 27, 2012 at 1:55 PM

The 50 most powerful food folks in America?

marler.jpg

One list ranked Seattle food safety lawyer Bill Marler among the most powerful food figures in America. Photo by Ken Lambert/Seattle Times

Who are the most powerful people in America when it comes to food? According to The Daily Meal, the Nifty Fifty is topped by the president of the Food Network, Brooke Johnson, who beat out Thomas Vilsack (#2), secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Next in the top 5 are Jeremy Stoppelman (co-founder and CEO of Yelp), Mike Duke (president and CEO of Walmart), and Indra Nooyi (chairman and CEO of PepsiCo).

A few Seattleites made the Meal’s cut.

Craig Jelinek, the new CEO of Costco, came in at #15. Restaurateur-celebrity Mario Batali (as I said the other day, we still get to count him as a favorite son) was #22. And food safety lawyer Bill Marler, whose influence we have long chronicled, made the list at #46. A lot of mega-corporation heads ranked high, including those at Tyson, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, The Monsanto Company, and McDonalds. Daily Meal editorial director Colman Andrews (the co-founder of Saveur magazine) wrote that a high ranking didn’t imply (or not imply) approval, it just reflected reality. “Putting the president of Subway above the director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium doesn’t mean we think assembling foot-long chipotle chicken and cheese sandwiches is a nobler pursuit than monitoring and encouraging sustainable fisheries — just that more Americans (sad to say) are probably affected by the former than the latter.”

Andrews told the industry-oriented Smartblog that, while they got dinged for not including more farmers on the list, the toughest job by far was figuring out the order, not figuring out who to include.

“Is a key media figure really more powerful than the chairman of a multinational corporation? Should a celebrity chef outrank an anti-hunger activist?” he said in the interview. “We argued long and hard about relative position, coming up with an order that can be disputed endlessly but that we feel is ultimately justified.”

Agree? Want to dispute the list endlessly? Take a look at the full 50 and let us know what you think.

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