June 25, 2021
June has been punctuated by change, challenge and discussions on diversity. Over the past few weeks, the most influential voices in food, beverage and agriculture have weighed in on LGBTQ+ and racial issues.
- Pride Month provided a backdrop for discussions around gender identity and sexual orientation in food production, marketing and policy.
- Juneteenth, now a federal holiday, prompted conversations about racial inequity in food and farming.
“We cannot end #ChildhoodHunger without also working to end inequality and injustice.”No Kid Hungry (Twitter)
Eating the Rainbow
Just about every link in the food supply chain explored LGBTQ+ issues in a variety of ways. As Pride Month winds down, we collected a few standouts:
- Throughout the month, Eater’s “Queer Table” series showcased LGBTQ+ chefs, farmers, bakers, butchers and more.
- On June 7, Food & Wine covered the story of Confections Bakery in Texas, which posted rainbow heart-shaped cookies on Facebook with the message: “Happy Pride to all our LGBTQ friends! All lovers of cookies and happiness are welcome here.” The post received a good deal of backlash, as well as an outpouring of support, serving as a microcosm of our divided nation. Can we at least agree that cookies are delicious?
- In a June 9 post, Civil Eats explained how many LGBTQ+ farms support Pride Month all year long: “Many queer and trans farmers and land stewards are building a new system in how they choose to grow food, build community, and organize their labor.”
- Food Politics blogger Marion Nestle summarized the “Together” cereal, which Kellogg’s promoted in honor of Pride Month. Nestle was not impressed: “From where I sit, Kellogg is using gay pride to market its cereals. This is about marketing. Period.”
- Corteva Agriscience CEO Jim Collins tweeted a video describing the success of Leon, a California almond grower, and his husband and kids who “shares his inspiring journey of growth — both personal and professional.”
- Aramark chef Brittani Ratcliff of Morehouse State University celebrated Pride Month by serving colorful dishes using “cool ingredients like Cheeto dust or Sour Patch kids incorporated with classic French techniques” (Food Management).
- New York’s Stonewall Inn — the bar associated with the beginning of the gay rights movement — banned Anheuser-Busch products, citing the beer giant’s contributions to politicians who have supported anti-LGBTQ+ legislation (The Associated Press).
This year marked the first federal recognition of Juneteenth, celebrating when General Gordon Granger brought news of the Emancipation Proclamation to Galveston, Texas, in 1865 — two and half years after its decree. The holiday spurred many to discuss the intertwined histories of Black culture and the farming, food and beverage industries.
- Food52 shared a collection of recipes from Black food bloggers. Red foods are a common theme: “Symbolic of the blood shed by our ancestors and of the collective resiliency of Black people in America.”
- No Kid Hungry tweeted, “We cannot end #ChildhoodHunger without also working to end inequality and injustice. And that includes learning about the legacy of racism in this country.”
- Brands ranging from Smithfield Foods to McDonald’s used the opportunity to reiterate recent diversity and inclusion commitments.
- Chef Thérèse Nelson wrote in The Counter that the themes of the recent Netflix show High on the Hog have been reflected in her own culinary career. In particular, she addressed the influence — and sidelining — of Black culture in the American culinary world.
- The National Young Farmers Coalition discussed the “many striking similarities in the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation” and recent relief bills for socially disadvantaged farmers.
- Federal judges in Wisconsin and Florida blocked the relief, with the latter ruling that past injustices do not offset “categorical, race-based qualification.” House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott (D-Ga.) responded, “The very survival of Black farmers is at stake — and this would be an unpardonable sin.”
Some important points of view worth checking out this weekend.
“Federal agriculture officials are launching what could become their largest grasshopper-killing campaign since the 1980s,” reported The Associated Press. Why? It turns out that grasshoppers and droughts are partners in crime — and the victims could soon be U.S. farmers and ranchers. Much more to come on the drought that will make 2021 one of the driest growing seasons on record.
Hot Chicken Market
The nation’s third-largest poultry processor, Sanderson Farms, attracted attention this week when it hired a New York-based investment banking firm to evaluate a possible sale. Meatingplace reported that Sanderson’s stronger-than-expected sales led to inquiries from potential buyers. The Mississippi-based company is valued at approximately $3.5 billion.
In The Wall Street Journal, Tracy Richmond, director of the Boston Children’s Hospital eating disorder program, explained research showing that hospitalizations among adolescents diagnosed with an eating disorder doubled during the pandemic. She described a typical scenario: “A teen who comes in saying she decided to try to become healthier during the pandemic, often guided by TikTok videos and other social-media posts from fitness influencers. Social isolation, boredom and fear of gaining weight during quarantine also led to unhealthy behaviors.”
Results from a recent survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) show that 63% of consumers say they are paying more attention to ingredient panels. Researchers surveyed 1,054 consumers and found that 58% look for labels with clean ingredients. Meanwhile, a study from FONA International found that 70% of consumers said taste is more important than labeled sugar content — even though half also said they plan to cut back on sugar.
Eyes on the Thighs
Calling it “a strategic supply-chain move,” Wingstop announced a new delivery and carryout concept, Thighstop. The move comes in response to the rising cost of wings and overall decrease in supply as processors continue to struggle with understaffed plants. CEO Charlie Morrison commented: “Too often these days, thighs are stuck in the bottom of a bucket of chicken. We believe that we can finally give thighs the focus and attention they deserve.”
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