Food Out Loud: GMO Questions and Answers

The use of GMOs has been a hotbed issue in the U.S. for many decades and there are strong concerns happening on both sides of the conversation. For me historically, I have been against GMOs , I have taking part in protests and advocated against the spread of GMOs in our food ecosystem. But, working here at Foodable, I am often questioned on why I feel they way I do. Sometimes I simply do not have all the answers.  I realized that when it came to GMOs I was in a bit of an echo chamber, only talking to people who were on my side of the argument. So I started to think about what I didn’t know.

One of the biggest arguments for GMOs is the idea that we need them to feed a growing population. I realized that I don't understand enough about what it takes to feed the world, let alone what it will take to feed future generations. I also did not know exactly what was considered a GMO and how present they are in the food we eat every day.

With that in mind,  I decided that I wanted to try to find someone who was an advocate of GMOs to ask them some of the basic questions that I just simply do not have the answers to.

In this episode, I speak with Leia Flure, a GMO advocate who writes for a site called “GMO Answers.” Leia is a registered dietitian based in Champaign, Illinois. She is also an educator, has a psychology and a nutritional science degree, and is a mother - so she has to truly believe that GMOs are safe and useful. And that was what I was looking for. Someone who did not have a horse in the game, someone who did their own research and came to their own conclusions based on her own research and education. She has decided to write for “GMO Answers,” which is a partially funded by GMO companies, but her conclusions are her own.

If there is a takeaway for me from this discussion it is that we may have to separate the science from the practices of some of these companies. We all know the case of Dewayne Johnson vs. Monsanto and how that turned out. Of course, this validates a lot of my viewpoints on GMOs and the damage they can cause to people and the environment. So does the bad really outweigh the good?

This podcast may upset some hardcore proponents against GMOs and I get it, I didn't dig in and barrage my guest with rage against some of the points that I don't necessarily agree because it’s important to keep an open dialogue. But rest assured this is not a topic that I am done exploring because it is not a topic that we have come to final conclusions on. So please shoot me an email or a tweet and let me know what questions you have and I will continue this conversation.

Research by:

Nathan Mikita

Nathan Mikita

Director of New Media/Producer


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Yelp Shares Spike After Most Recent Quarterly Earnings Report

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Shutterstock

The popular local-search service and review site Yelp saw a 10 percent jump in its shares after the company reported its latest quarterly earnings and revenue.

The earnings report exceeded Wall Street's expectations.

"The company reported earnings of $0.37 per share on revenue of $243.7 million. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected adjusted earnings per share of $0.36 on revenue of $241.2 million for the final three months of 2018," writes "Markets Insider."

This is quite the improvement from last quarter where the company reported earnings results that fell short of expectations, causing Yelp's share to plummet.

Although the company's shares have increased by 12 percent this year, Yelp has struggled to return to its 52-week high in 2018.

The shares are still 26 percent below the 2018 high.

But Yelp is aiming to "exit 2019 with strong revenue growth."

However, the review service is navigating through somewhat of a PR nightmare after SQN Investors LP, one of the largest investors of Yelp, issued a public letter expressing frustration with the company.

The letter says the board of director' "patience has now worn out" after "a history of repeated strategic and operational missteps, missed expectations, sharp guidance revisions, and poor corporate governance that has led to significant stock underperformance."

Yelp was quick to respond saying it welcomes "any ideas and investor input" and that the company is looking for additional Board candidates to "drive" strategy.

Will Yelp be able to overcome this PR challenge? As the market becomes more saturated with crowd-sourced review platforms like Facebook and Google, will Yelp be able to remain the leader in the review and recommendation category?

Read more about Yelp's latest shares spike at "Markets Insider."

From an operator standpoint, managing yelp and other reviews sites can be a pain. Luckily, there are tools out there to help manage online customer interaction. Check out some tech apps that can make an operator's life easier in the On Foodable episode below.

How Chipotle's Investment in Digital is Paying Off

Chipotle's online ordering |   Chipotle

Chipotle's online ordering | Chipotle

One of the latest strategies by Chipotle to reclaim its top spot in the fast casual sector is to implement more digital technologies. The restaurant's goal is to make the ordering process even more convenient for guests.

One of the ways the chain is focusing on digital is it has added another line dedicated to only online orders. Starbucks, the king of mobile orders, also has a group of team members dedicated to solely mobile orders at each store.

Chipotle is also testing having online only pick-up drive-thru lanes to make the pick-up for online orderers even quicker.

"We are definitely under a digital transformation at Chipotle," said Brian Niccol, Chipotle's CEO to "CNN Business."

Evidently, the investment in digital tech has paid off. Digital sales grew by 66 percent in the last three months of 2018. The company's stock has spiked by 35 percent over the last year and in the last quarter of 2018, restaurant sales grew by 6 percent.

"We're definitely just getting started," said Niccol to "CNN." "There's still so much opportunity in front of us, and there's still a lot of work to be done."

Read more about Chipotle’s push to promote digital ordering at “CNN Business” now.

It's been a long road of recovery for the fresh Mex fast casual after its food safety crisis back in 2015, but then the chain hired the former Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol and continues to make power moves as part of its comeback play.

In 2019, the chain started the year out with a bang by rolling out lifestyle bowls. These new menu items are keto, Whole30, and paleo-friendly. Even though more restaurants are offering meals that are diet friendly, it's still difficult for those eating keto, paleo or Whole30 to find quick food options on the go. Chipotle is one of the first chain's to cater to these popular diets, making the restaurant one of the only options for those who are tired of the constant meal prep.

On a recent episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron explains why he thinks the chain's recent introduction of its Lifestyle Bowls was a slamdunk. Watch the video below to learn more about Chipotle's latest campaign to appeal to health-conscious eaters.

Restaurant Ordering is on Track to Triple by 2020

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Shutterstock

Guests expect that restaurants offer digital conveniences like online ordering. With that in mind, more restaurants are either partnering with third-party apps or developing online ordering platforms that are mobile friendly.

According to a recent report from the NPD Group, digital orders are up by 23 percent annually since 2013 and by 2020, this percentage is expected to triple.

Guests are now more inclined to make a food order digitally than calling the restaurant directly. They are also more likely to do this from their smartphone versus a computer. Six out of 10 digital orders are made on mobile apps.

Food delivery apps like Uber Eats and DoorDash are wildly popular and now make up 40 percent of the 20 most-used apps. These apps offer consumers multiple food options to pick from.

From a restaurant standpoint, these apps are an easy solution to the delivery problem. By partnering with a delivery app, you can offer your customers the convenience of delivery without investing in a driver or a platform to process these orders.

Even though the third-party services have made it easier for brands to offer delivery, they do cut significantly into profits. So we are starting to see more restaurants shift away from these services.

"There are clear leaders in the digital ordering space, brands, and third-party providers who have achieved critical mass the fastest," said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor. "To make the best decisions about digital strategies and potential partnerships, operators need to understand the key features that differentiate these companies from one another."

Restaurants definitely lose some of the control of these orders. Ultimately, it's up to the third-party's delivery driver to get the food and bring it to the guest in the estimated time frame. So the service aspect is heavily dependent on the delivery provider, not the restaurant.

According to the NPD report, over half of the consumers said they wouldn't use delivery if the food was to come cold or with the incorrect temperature. Read more about the report at “Restaurant Dive” now.

Want some tips on how to provide a delivery program that works? Watch this episode of On Foodable below, where we discuss how to implement delivery services, packaging, menus, and even restaurant design in order to optimize delivery efficiency.

This Brand CMO Predicts the Technologies that Will Reign at Restaurants in 2019

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Technology has changed everything and will only continue to do so. When it comes to food, there's so much potential for technology to help make a positive impact.

So what does the future hold for the restaurant industry? How will technology help to enhance operations or the guest experience?

Nabeel Alamgir, the chief marketing officer at Bareburger made some predictions in a recent opinion piece for "Forbes" where he said that augmented reality is expected to take the dining experience to the next level.

"If your customer finishes their drink, the technology recognizes this and prompts their server for a refill. Additionally, augmented reality allows your customers to see a 360-degree, digital rendition of each menu item right in front of them," writes Alamgir.

Although Alamgir predicts that augmented reality will become more mainstream, he also thinks that table-top kiosks will continue to pop-up at restaurants.

This technology can be a waiter's best friend. It enables guests to order or ask for a drink refill without being asked by a server. They can even pay on the tablet.

"Kiosks have the potential to improve your turnover rate and keep your company on trend, assuming the initial growing pains are overcome," writes Alamgir.

Plant-based proteins are rooted in science and technology. In 2019, these innovations are only going to become more popular, especially as consumers gravitate away from traditional meat.

"Meat alternatives often work for everyone’s diet, religion and beliefs, so there’s no reason not to offer them as options for your customers.," writes Alamgir.

What other technology and food trends does this marketer think will take over the restaurant industry come 2019? Read more at "Forbes" now.

On a recent episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron gave his own predictions about what the future holds for the restaurant industry. Six out of his eight predictions were spot-on. Watch the video to see what Barron thinks will take off this year.