3.30.2015

Food Issues Book Club: Appetite for Profit, Concluding Thoughts

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, Concluding Thoughts

In the concluding chapter of Appetite for Profit, Simon offers some broad proposals on how to combat food industry sway:
  • be skeptical of how industry efforts are portrayed in the media
  • don't be fooled by promises from the industry to "self-regulate"
  • keep an eye out for nutriwashing, the industry's favorite way to pretend that it's making more healthful food when nothing has really changed
  • beware of partnerships with seemingly health-oriented organizations - often they've either been bought or were actually created by the industry
  • don't let the industry shift responsibility away from itself and toward you with arguments like "personal responsibility"
  • don't support fat-shaming and industry's insistence that problems with overweight are due to lack of exercise rather than food intake
  • remember that special considerations must be made for children
All legitimate.  And yet, if I had it to do over again, I don't think I would have chosen this book.  While approximately a million times more dense, an updated edition of Marion Nestle's Food Politics would have provided much of the same information, more effectively and with more background, concision, and context.  This book at times reads like the work of a novice with an axe to grind.  Perhaps as an attorney, Simon is too ready to argue.  (Perhaps as a paralegal, I'm too ready to fault attorneys.)

It is of course possible that it strikes me this way because the book doesn't cover any new ground for me.  Having read Food Politics over ten years ago, as well as many other articles on these topics in the years since, I have literally heard all of this before.  For a reader just being introduced to the topics, though, perhaps it's just right.

Did you read Appetite for Profit?  How useful did you find it?  Would you recommend it to others, and if so at what knowledge level?  Do tell.  And join me tomorrow as I introduce April's reading selection: Weighing In by Julie Guthman!

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