The Food Issues Book Club: Appetite For Profit, Chapter 3

Hello all!  Welcome to the NOiG Food Issues Book Club, wherein I read books about food stuff, summarize each book by chapter, and then attempt to apply that book chapter's ideas to the New Orleans food environment and my own experiences.  Fun right?!  Check out previous installations here.  I'd love it if you'd read along and join in!  And now, without further ado...

Appetite for Profit, Chapter 3 -
Freedom From Choice: Distortions of All-American Values


The food industry and its pundits take great strides to paint legitimate health organizations as radicals unworthy of trust.  The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), an industry front group posing as a public interest nonprofit, uses the ruthless tactics pioneered by Big Tobacco to discredit worthwhile nutritional information.  CCF "defends" the values of choice and freedom against "[t]he food police, militant radicals, and Big Brother government bureaucrats who want to keep you from enjoying your God-given right to Big Macs, Marlboros, and Budweiser."

Food companies work to publicly ally themselves with consumers by creating an "us and them" dichotomy - seemingly for the oppressed consumer and against oppressive food activists and educators.  It does so by turning the the opposition into the "food police," people who dare to tell the public not to enjoy the tasty foods they love.  The industry, of course, wants consumers to eat its tasty, cheap-to-make, high-profit-margin foods.  In reality, it is only fighting for consumers' "right" to follow the advice of its tens of billions of annual advertising dollars to put the money back into its pockets.

CCF in particular attempts to marginalize the nutrition-conscious, implying and even expressing that such actors have ulterior motives and nefarious personal agendas.  But the "choices" it champions are an illusion: "in allowing corporations to unilaterally and undemocratically determine our food choices for us, we wholly abdicate our freedom to choose."  The threat posed by regulation is one of corporate profit, not of choice.  It's no leap, then, to assume that it is the industry which has an ulterior motive.


This chapter drags a bit; it's mostly Ms. Simon railing against CCF which has attacked her personally in the past.  They are, of course, absurd.  Mostly, it's a great reminder to always check your sources.  When you see a message - even one you agree with - always take the time to consider where it's coming from and what its purpose is.

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