Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Wal-Mart, speaks to shareholders in Fayetteville, Arkansas June 3, 2011.
Sarah Conard/Reuters

The top 50 people with a hand in your food

You could probably guess the 50 most popular people in food for 2013. It’d be a list of the usual suspects: chefs, recent winners of Top Chef, food critics. But how often do you think about who’s influencing your food?

The Daily Meal has broken down the 50 Most Influential People in Food for this past year – and some of the names may surprise you.

What’s important about this list is it pinpoints who’s shaping your food experience, from creation to consumption. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack topped the list for sem-obvious reasons. “[Vilsack] has a say in what get’s approved, and that approval is such a huge stamp, not just on product but on policies,” Spanfeller Media Group’s Tim McGeever told msnbc.

But our attention was drawn to the #3 slot: Walmart President and CEO, Doug McMillon. The 47-year old is at the helm of the nation’s largest retail chain – and also at the forefront of the ongoing minimum wage debate. It was the fact that he will come in to lead “such a powerhouse retailer” that put McMillon in the top 5. But size isn’t the only consideration; it’s what Walmart does with it. “Because of their scope and economic impact, the CEO has the power to lobby [for example] for leniency on the term ‘organic,’ whereas if you’re smaller on the scale you can’t stand a chance in Washington,” McGeever explained. Walmart did, in fact, lobby for a looser definition of the term “organic,” thus allowing them more room to label certain products in that way. So while they’re the “number one customer for organic foods” fears do still persist that the bar has been lowered in terms of the quality of the organic label. 

Read the full list here and give us your reactions in the comments section.

City-dwellers will probably rejoice over Seamless’ Matt Maloney making the list, because recognition is much deserved for the man who made it possible to interact with people even less by giving us the ability to order food seamlessly online.

FDA, Tom Vilsack and Wal-Mart

The top 50 people with a hand in your food