There is currently an active debate on social media about nutrition and the role of sugar in the diet. For several years there has been many diet books written by “experts” on whether we should have a reduced or even a zero tolerance for sugar in the American diet. A number of studies have come out that can argue for or against sugar. How impartial are these studies? It depends on who is funding them. A documentary produced by Katie Couric, journalist turned talk show host, has added the latest entry entitled “Fed Up”. In my humble opinion this seems to reflect another edification of the haves versus have-nots. What do I mean by this? The food purchasing game is rigged against the consumer. The average food buying customer who tries to make a proper healthy food purchase that may include some of the sentimental favorites from childhood be it a sweet or a salty item is now hooked and manipulated like a drug addict to need more. Whether the conversation is about money or diet the powerful always win.
No one wants to be obese. Many corporations, who grow, develop and market our food, also known as Big Food, are doing everything they can to make a profit for their Wall Street investors. This is done by changing our food industry while encouraging people to make poor food choices using taste manipulation and visual cues. As noted in the2013 book “Sugar Salt Fat” written by Michael Moss, Grocery Manufacturers Association, a trade group who represents Big Food, purposefully sabotage good food choices consumers make in order to increase their profit by a total manipulation of the grocery shopping experience.
The minute you walk into a grocery store or a mini-mart the focus changes from your specific list to what manufacturers want you to buy. For example, from the atmosphere created by the lighting to the music to the end of aisle food product placement all are created by millions of dollars of marketing experts who exploit the biochemistry of the brain of the consumer for profit. Who is Big Food? Just most of the food brands we grew up with and can name the jingle attached to a favorite product. General Mills and Kraft used to be until they were bought by Phillip Morris, the Tobacco Company. Today the Nestle Corporation has “billion dollar brands” that are well known and is probably the largest food company in the world. You may say that consumers have freedom of choice when it comes to purchases made in the grocery aisle but it is not so simple.
The grocery experience we all love is a carefully staged enterprise that food companies invest millions of dollars in to make sure our decisions change from our original intentions until when we enter the store. That is if you are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a grocery store. In poor neighborhoods, that are often known as food deserts, the only place to pick up food is a mini-mart. In these neighborhoods the population is most likely on food assistance so the food manufacturers have literally insured that a poor food choice will happen. Yet the very popular notion by the wealthy decision makers in Congress is that it is the fault of the consumer living in these urban areas and that a good choice could be made if people wanted it to happen.
What can you do about it? Let’s take the discussion on sugar. There is no need to completely rid you diet from sugar. Sugar by itself is not the enemy. Processed food on the other hand is the enemy by its contents of added sugar, salt and fat as well as other chemical additives which walk the fine line of taste and profit for food companies.
Educate yourself on the appropriate amounts of sugar needed for a healthy diet. Then write your congressman and tell them that you want the food manufacturers to stop manipulating you food with additives that you cannot pronounce. Tell them to lower the levels of sugar salt and fat in your processed food or better yet stop buying it altogether. Vote with your pocketbook. Join the Center for Science in the Public Interest and learn about the foods you enjoy and new healthier versions of favorite family recipes.