No joke: Cannabis and climate change top list of food and farming conversations

Hemp fibre in bales. Photo: Valley Bio Ltd.

If you had to name the top four food and farming-related topics discussed on social media in the last two years, would cannabis top the list? Possibly, given the lead-up to changed legislation last fall, but would you have guessed climate change taking the second spot?

A new study led by the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI) uncovered how food, farming and a handful of hot button issues capture national interest in millions of conversations online. Public Opinion: a study of Canadian conversations online on food and farming measured the discussions related to food and farming of 254,900 Canadians for 24 months on social media, from January 2017 to January 2019. The study assessed many social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit using a proprietary artificial intelligence tool to analyze public social media, with no personalized data attached to the findings.

Key conversations Canadians were discussing online over the two-year period included:

  • 8 million people were discussing cannabis
  • 2.5 million discussions on climate change as it relates to food production
  • 2.1 million discussed genetically modified foods (GMOs)
  • 2 million talking about organic food and farming

Crystal Mackay, president of CCFI, says the biggest surprise to her was the ranking of climate change conversations — especially seeing as it’s not typically what farm and food groups have focused on in their outreach messaging.

Mackay adds that research like this proves the importance of joining the millions of conversations online around key topics, such as cost of food and climate change. For example, almost half of the two million conversations around GMOs over the two-year span happened during November, 2018. Understanding what consumers are discussing and where is key to industry groups actively participating in these conversations.

Listen below to more from Crystal Mackay, president of CCFI, on what consumers are talking about online:

You can read the full study report at

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