The Power of the Consumer

Despite a barrage of criticism, Chipolte has now converted to a 100% GMO-free menu. It has been rewarded with an ever-increasing market share and a soaring stock price. The rapidly increasing market demand for GMO-free products is further evidence of the power of the consumer to change our food system.

The rest of the fast food world is taking note of course and nearly every day it seems there are new stories of menu changes designed to reflect the values of consumers who are increasingly looking not only at the price of their food, but also to the ethics behind its production. So fast-food companies are announcing that they will no longer sell pork from companies that keep sows in farrowing crates or chicken from companies that feed human-used antibiotics to their chickens to stimulate growth. They’re not doing this because they’re suddenly conscious-stricken about their practices. They’re doing it because they have concluded that elimination of some of the practices most objectionable to informed consumers will make their corporations more profitable.

The anti-GMO bandwagon, rolling along despite no assistance from the government and no government coercion, is threatening to bring dramatic change to the industry. As one widely-circulated article says:

For Monsanto and GMOs the situation suddenly looks ominous. Chipotle may well represent the beginnings of a market swing of historic proportions. GMOs may be relegated to cattle-feed status, or even oblivion, in the USA. And if GMOs fail in the US, they are likely to fail elsewhere.

I see GMO food as more of a symptom than a problem, but given that with very few exceptions GMO ingredients are only in unhealthy food that no one should eat, if GMOs should be brought down by consumer sentiment that would be fine by me.  More importantly, it would be confirmation of the power of consumers to defeat corporate food marketeers and government-sponsored market manipulation.

Thanks to activists and nonconformists in the food movement, the future of our food system looks much better today than it did a couple of years ago.


18 comments on “The Power of the Consumer

  1. Laura says:

    The information age is pretty exciting. It’s amazing to see things like this change just by consumers being more aware. Kraft mac n cheese and Lucky Charms both without artificial colors, what is this world coming to? 🙂


    • Bill says:

      Yes it is. The industrial food giants are discovering that bloggers and users of social media are able to educate people and influence behavior more effectively than their multi-million dollar advertising budgets and public relations campaigns. We still have a long way to go but it seems clear to me that the tide is turning, rapidly.


  2. Joanna says:

    Very encouraging and a step in the right direction


    • Bill says:

      Indeed. Public sentiment is changing corporate behavior, even though the corporations have the government on their side. That’s refreshing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        “… have the government on their side…” Have you heard the old Scots adage, “He who pays the Piper, calls the tune”?


  3. ain't for city gals says:

    That is encouraging if for no other reason it will make most people at least ask what is GMO…ha! Just got the book We the Eaters….looking forward to reading it this weekend….


  4. Me too. Started the first chapter last night. (Lucky Charms without coloring? My kids thought I was the meanest mom in the world for not letting them eat it twenty-five years ago.)


  5. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, welcome back to the blogging world. I thought maybe being away from the daily blog and commenting might convince you that a media sabbatical would be nice. I know when I go on vacation, I also take a vacation from media. When I get back home, sometimes I’m a little reluctant to get back in the media routine. Of course once I get started I’m glad I did.

    This is good news that folks are finally waking up about food and doing something about it. I’m not sure that third world really cares about the GMO issue. If a person is starving, they just aren’t going to refuse GMO food when it satisfies the hunger. Fast food is indeed going through a change and beginning to offer better choices. Even the King of fast food Mickey D (Mc Donald’s) is offering better choices. Maybe some day their claim to fame will be billions and billions of salads were sold. …. Nah, maybe not.

    I bet you’re glad the computer upgrade is over. I’m always glad to get back to normal after a computer upgrade. Transferring information from one to another is always a crap shoot as to whether it will work or not.

    I just plucked my first cherry tomatoes off the vine and popped them into my mouth. Hwah (manly noise) , I been waiting for that taste a long time. Sooooo juicy with an explosion of flavor. I still have tomato vine smell on my fingers. I love this time of the year. My regular tomatoes are the size of plums and looking good. The deer at Terra Nova Gardens visit daily and I really must get my fence complete this year. I’m not sure how they did it but all the flowers are gone off the rose bush by the drive entry and every leaf is gone from the shoulder high sunflowers. They haven’t bothered the beans or the cucumbers …. yet. Weeds in some areas of the garden are head high. They totally got out of control again this year but I have a plan to bring the land under control by the end of the summer.

    Have a great computer media day.


    • Bill says:

      Having no computer for a few days really showed me how much time I spend on this thing! I was able to get outside a half hour earlier in the morning and I got a lot more reading done at night. It was a good lesson. I need to make sure I limit the amount of time I spend looking at a screen.

      Deer have ruined our tomatoes this year. I’ve never known them to eat tomato plants. I thought nightshades were poisonous. So much work down the drain…

      I agree that starving people won’t care if their food has GMOs in it, but of course GMO food doesn’t feed starving people. The principal GMO crops are dent corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. About 40% of the corn goes to make ethanol and the rest is used as animal feed, as is 99% of the GMO soybeans. Byproducts like HFCS end up in processed junk food, but the industrial claim that GMOs are feeding the world is just nonsense in my opinion.


  6. smcasson says:

    I personally would enjoy seeing Monsanto fall on it’s face. (Yes, I can be a little vengeful…)
    There’s “roundup ready” corn and beans right next door. Next door! It makes me sad.
    McDs pulled pink slime for a while, but it’s back… Think GMO free will stick? Hope so.


    • Bill says:

      Time will tell. I’m hopeful but I’m certainly not counting on Monsanto and McDonalds to blaze any trails to better, more ethically produced food. I just hope consumers continue to vote the right way with their pocketbooks.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. EllaDee says:

    I love every little concession the Bigs have to make. And they thought no-one would notice… care…!


    • Bill says:

      Things like social media (and blogs) have leveled the playing field a bit on the ability to get messages to large groups of people. No longer are governments and corporations the only ones with that ability. I think that has a lot to do with this.


  8. Steve says:

    A corner may be turned, but it’s a very curvy road.


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