Lists Are Decieving

I’m not entirely sure how these magazine “Top fill-in-the-blank” lists are generated. There clearly must be some genuine merit in the list making. But there may also be some pay-for-play going on. But, whatever, lists are fun. Clearly here on ES we’re a bit obsessed.

Fortune (in conjunction with CNN/Money—conglomerates are unclear) released the 2009 50 Most Powerful Women list. When I saw the link via Twitter I was totally pumped. I love girl power.

But as I scrolled, I couldn’t even make it past the top 3. They all worked for food-based companies. You’d think as a food writer I’d be totally pumped. But no, these women worked for huge companies that are contributing to our current obesity epidemic and the overall poor health of the nation and the environment.

I really do usually try to provide women-friendly commentary, but I have to say that I’m embarrassed that these women promote such unhealthy eating habits. Although it’s been proven that when a woman breaks through the glass ceiling it will help other women in that company attain promotions and pay equity, I’m just not so sure I want today’s working women to follow this path.

Maybe this woman’s though.

Here are the top 3 women in Fortune’s list and their offenses:


Name: Indra Nooyi
Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: PepsiCo
Offense: Soda is so bad it’s now being treated like cigarettes. The president is floating the idea of a soda tax.
Name: Irene Rosenfeld
Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: Kraft Foods
Name: Pat Woertz
Chairman, CEO, and President
Company: Archer Daniels Midland
Offense: Corn’s been getting a much deserved bad rap (see #1), but soy is no angel. It’s the alt crop to corn and we have already seen the mess when one crop takes over.

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  • Maids September 15, 2009  

    These chairWOmen (why would Fortune list them as chairmen when the whole point of the article is the top most powerful women, shouldn’t they at least use the gender neutral Chairperson?) do have really interesting bios though. And, even if they work for evil food companies I think they are good role models for entrepreneurial chicas. Indra supports refugee causes around the world and serves on the board of the International Rescue Committee. She is of Tamil origin, born in Tamil Nadu India, and has done a lot for the Tamil refugee population abroad (the Tamil people of Sri Lanka have suffered a lot of hardship in recent decades). She’s also a big supporter of the Performing Arts and is known as a real philanthropist. Can’t that balance out the evil that is PepsiCo?

  • Summer September 15, 2009  

    The other day I saw a commercial for Kraft American cheese singles that essentially said that Kraft American cheese represents all that is good about America. I’d argue exactly the opposite: plastic-wrapped plastic-tasting processed cheese food is an excellent symbol of everything that’s wrong with our country. The environmentally destructive culture of disposability, the obesity epidemic, corporate greed, the idea that something fake (be it artificial sweetener or Heidi Montag’s breasts) can be as good as or superior to the real thing — it’s all right there, in one bright yellow square.

    I’ve raised my child to believe that grilled cheese sandwiches should be made with cheese sliced off a hunk of Vermont or Wisconsin cheddar and two pieces of 100% whole wheat bread, grilled on a pan slicked with real butter. I am either a real patriot or a stinking hippie.

  • JoeHoya September 15, 2009  

    Not sure if it’s the case in these instances, Maids, but in many cases the official title is still “Chairman” even when a woman holds the office. It may actually require a change of an organization’s bylaws and organizing documents to move the title from the gender-specific to the gender neutral.

    Not defending the practice…just observing.

  • Kristen September 15, 2009  

    CEO Irene Rosenfeld is also modeling Kraft’s newest product: EasyHair™. Why style your own hair when Kraft offers pre-made hairstyles, individually wrapped for freshness.

  • Ben September 18, 2009  

    Give Indra Nooyi credit for trying to move Pepsi toward healthy snacks… And give them all time to make some sort of change.

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