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5@5: Walgreens trials face-scanning fridges | Investors worth $6.5 trillion call for food revolution

Each day at 5 p.m. we collect the five top food and supplement headlines of the day, making it easy for you to catch up on today's most important natural products industry news.

Now your groceries see you, too

Walgreens’ new line of in-store “smart coolers” are designed to scan shoppers’ faces and make inferences about their ages and genders. They are, notably, not “facial recognition” devices, as this approach has seen backlash in states such as Illinois, where facial recognition in public is outlawed under the Biometric Privacy Act. The tech also has “iris-tracking” capabilities, which means Walgreens could sell information to brands about where they rank in terms of being looked at. Read more at The Atlantic …

 

Investors join calls for a food revolution to fight climate change

 

On Tuesday, 80 investor groups representing more than $6.5 trillion in assets “called on six of the largest fast food companies, including McDonald’s and the corporate owners of KFC and Pizza Hut, to set targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions from their meat and dairy supply chains.” As one sustainability group director pointed out, “This is the largest-emitting sector that doesn’t have a low-carbon plan” as of yet, even while other high-carbon-emitting industries—such as electric power—are going above and beyond to transform their business models in line with the Paris climate agreement. Read more at Civil Eats 

 

No online shopping company can figure out how to quit this one plastic bag

E-commerce is notorious for the amount of plastic packaging waste it causes—most of which end up in the ocean, breaking into smaller and smaller toxic bits and harming sea life (and eventually, humans). But one aspect of online retail in particular continues to bedevil even the most sustainably-minded suppliers—#4 virgin plastic film bags, known more commonly as “polybags.” Allegedly, these bags are necessary to keep shipped products in optimal condition, forcing more and more industries to search in vain for sustainable, scalable alternatives. Read more at Vox …

 

This ice cream company is trying to make vegan ice cream mainstream—and really good

Salt & Straw, an ice cream company with outposts in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, has officially dedicated one-fifth of its menu to innovative, plant-based versions of its most popular flavors. The company chose its coconut-milk base and various flavors by sneaking the vegan versions onto menus without marking them as such to determine whether non-vegan consumers enjoyed the flavor based on taste alone. Read more at Fast Company …

 

Academics across the country say agribusiness has outsize influence on their research

Private industry money is streaming into once publicly funded university research, causing a shift in priorities that isn’t necessarily the best for academic freedom. Big Ag “has a stranglehold over land universities,” according to one former dean of Iowa University’s School of Public Health, to the point where ag-friendly universities–and the studies they publish–typically end up being beholden to agricultural interests. Read more at New Food Economy  

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