Is The Food Industry in America Ready To Start Paying Its Karmic Debt?

image courtesy of The New York Times

Image by Grant Cornett,  courtesy of The New York Times (Featured in The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, published February 24th, 2013)

It’s no secret that in the food industry, whether you are selling fruit or fried snacks, “the selling of food matters as much as the food itself. A little bit of marketing strategy goes a long way (something I would know a few things about) and the companies who make the stuff you buy spend a lot of money trying to figure you (yes, you) out the best they can so they can make sure you want their product enough to go out and buy it and tell your friends! That’s all well and good, right? Everything is about branding these days and there’s so much competition that it’s important to make your product stand out. With food, though, it gets a little sketchy because we know we have an obesity and diabetes problem in this country that just keeps growing and we are trying to unlearn the bad habits and re-learn some good ones.
What you may not know, however, is that, according to a serious whistle-blower article in today’s New York Time’s Magazine  The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food by Michael Moss, that the food companies (think Frito Lay, General Mills, etc.) have been using hardcore food science to find out how best to get you addicted to their food so you buy / eat up as much as possible to keep them in business…and that the ingredients that make that happen are pretty much all the worst things for us that continue to make us sick: fat, salt and sugar.
So, on the one hand we can say : “well, we created this culture of unhealthy consumption by buying this stuff – sacrificing our health so we could have more time to do other things like work and watch TV”. But on the other hand, the light on the scientific side of the tunnel says that maybe it isn’t entirely our fault – that we’ve basically been sold legal crack by a system of companies who, by the way, DID know better but continued to do it anyway.
This goes back to the dilemma I find myself and a lot of my peers in this industry grappling with: who is responsible for improving the state of our human existence? The dialog of late has stated that it’s up to civil society as much as governments and corporations. But the more and more I think about it – and the more I read and learn about this business I thought I knew all too well – the more affirmed I become in my belief that these same offending corporations need to be the ones leading the charge toward a healthy human population and they need to do it now.
One former Coke exec is doing just that – as detailed in the aforementioned article here: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food , by using the marketing tricks he learned to sell carrots instead of “crap”.

I recommend giving this one a read.  It’s important that we know what’s out there so we can make informed decisions. The fate of our culture is in our own hands and a little bit of knowledge, like a little bit of marketing, goes a long way in creating momentum for change.


Categories: American Culture, Consumer Anthropology, Corporate Culture, Culture, Food, Marketing, Science, sociology, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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