By Leslie Sarasin, President and CEO, FMI 

The Washington Nationals won the World Series this year and a city—long denied a Major League Baseball national-level athletic accomplishment—has not stopped rejoicing. Beyond the joy of having a team recognized as the best of the best, D.C. appears to be reveling in HOW their team did it as much as the fact THAT they did it. On their way to being named World Series champs, the Nats had their backs against the wall numerous times – even to the point of twice being one defeat away from elimination. Each time the team showed the necessary grit and dug its way out of the hole it found themselves in. On this trying path they had to overcome so many obstacles, the dugout mantra the team developed to keep them moving forward and motivated to persevere against the odds was, “Finish the Fight!”

There is something particularly noble about accomplishments that have so many ups and downs and surprise developments that they require a special brand of perseverance. Finishing the fight requires overcoming the nagging drag of self-doubt when the path looks bleak; and it means—as a team— avoiding the tendency to blame others or play victim when the circumstances appear to be working against you. Victories achieved in against-the-odds battles that are long and hard have a special flavor to them that are a joy to savor.

Looking at FMI’s major accomplishments in 2019, there are two areas I am especially proud of because they have both required that special brand of perseverance:

One was FMI’s history-influencing achievement in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court victory (in a vote of 6 to 3) in its fight to protect retailer and shopper privacy. The Court’s opinion affirmed that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was created to shine a light on the government, not on private parties, and the Supreme Court’s holding creates an important precedent that will extend well beyond store-level Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) sales data in grocery.

The second was our work with the federal agencies regarding the drama and trauma of the romaine lettuce advisory issued just before Thanksgiving last year. It appears the leafy greens drama continues, but the resources we’ve developed and the agency relationships we’ve established are certainly serving us as we press forward for better future results.

Some other areas of note include our work to get the Food Retail Industry Alliance off the ground, the magnitude of research that FMI executed in 2019 and our blueprint to expand Safe Quality Food Institute’s (SQFI) international scope and reach. All these projects, along with other FMI work, call upon us to persevere, continuing to advocate for the food industry until we finish the fight and then move on to other noble battles.

For more details about the many ways FMI serves the industry, see our End of Year video and full 2019 Year in Review report, which highlights some of our points of perseverance in pursuit of the accomplishments of 2019.