The Food Issues Book Club: Appetite For Profit, Chapter 2

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 2 -
Personal Responsibility, Energy Balance, and Other Distractions


How DARE government charge slightly more money
for something no one ever actually needs?!
The food industry has touted a doctrine of "personal responsibility" to the extent of supporting legislative action.  It does so frequently by equating regulation with an attack on personal choice; the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is a particular champion of this tactic.

The same industry that proclaims personal responsibility and consumer freedom also distorts or outright hides nutritional information from consumers, who are also often limited in their food choices by availability and price.  That's not to mention that the industry that claims to want you to make your own choices spends tens of billions of dollars every year advertising its highly processed foods to you.  And they keep doing it, every year, because it works.

Hand in hand with personal responsibility and freedom of choice is the "lazy" trope - we're overweight because we're just too dern lazy to exercise.  "This is, of course, a great way to deflect blame while changing the subject."  CCF manages to simultaneously claim that lack of exercise is causing the "obesity epidemic," and that there is no such epidemic happening.

In the mid-2000s, food companies began pushing the concept of "energy balance" - an excellent PR reworking of the old "calories in, calories out" motto.  Milking the concept for all its worth, companies began supporting "health" and "fitness" programs that served as thinly veiled advertising ploys.  Soda companies, extolling the importance of nutrition education, have collaborated with schools to build playgrounds and even design curricula... and to sell their products in schools and directly advertise to kids, a captive audience all school day long.

While it is incumbent upon each person to choose the healthiest options possible, corporations and government have a responsibility to create a food environment in which healthy choices are possible - or at the very least, not to create one that is toxic and actively prevents good health.


The food industry's message to consumers is clear and concise:
  • think for yourself
  • make your own choices
  • do so without complete information
  • buy what we tell you to
They're totally on our side!  They don't think we're stupid like that big bad nanny state.  They think we're soooooo smart that we'll see that the best choice is to buy their products, just like all the advertisements say.  But that's just a coincidence.  Right?  Right.

I mean, how ubiquitous could food advertising really be?  Oh hey here's a non-sequitur - anyone been to a Pelicans game at the Smoothie King Center this season?

As for that old "calories in, calories out" shtick, unfortunately that's just not how bodies work.  But why would industry let reality be a deterrent to a good sales pitch?

OK, sure.  It's not the government's job to make groceries for us.

But... can we talk about WaterZero for a minute?  Or better yet, Diet Water Zero Lite?

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