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In last month’s Food For Thought, we touched on the subject of how Big Food grooms us for consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD).
We know that SAD marketing is deep, wide, and robust. Training to want food-like substances starts very young. Big Food designs food-like products to be craveable, with the goal being skyrocketing sales and massive returns on investment. Unfortunately, with profits being paramount, the products’ nutritional value is often a distant, second consideration, if it is a consideration at all.
And sadly, the SAD gives the US population a leg up and onto the hamster wheel of declining health.
Imagine, if you will (said in my Rod Serling voice), a country where only ten food companies control most of the food supply. Imagine that in these companies, product success is determined by the addictive quality of the food, and the addictive quality is more important than the impact on the consumers’ well-being. Imagine that because these companies wield such tremendous financial clout, they are also deeply connected to other large, financially powerful companies. Imagine that these connections are strong and broad. In fact, every level of every sector of the country, including its chemical industries, mass communications, and educational and health care systems, supports the manufacture, sales, and consumption of food that slowly poisons the people who eat it. And then, in the final coup de grace, imagine that the leaders of the country, who fully understand what is happening, complain that they don’t know why the citizens are ill or how to improve the health of the nation.
Wow, if that doesn’t sound like a Twilight Zone episode, I don’t know what does.
And yet, that is how it looks right now in Westernized countries, making this a global problem. Do a computer search for “who controls the world’s food” and see what comes back. It’s an eye-popper. In 2019, the top 10 food companies combined boasted revenues of around $450 Billion. That’s more than the collective revenues of the next 31 most lucrative companies. It is even more than the GDP of each of the bottom 30 countries, including Egypt, Denmark, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong, for the same year. Take a look! .
In a world where the food, chemical manufacturing, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries are all linked, and profits are king, it has become too easy to ignore people’s health. Then layer on that corporations can financially support their preferred political candidates who also make the nation’s food decisions, and we have a healthcare nightmare.
None of this is news, of course, but it is like a freshly opened wound every time I remember it.
I think of little ones starting their lives drinking cow’s milk-based formulas and babies as young as eight months sucking on sugary yogurt drops that look like candy. Read more on this subject.
I think of a child on her first birthday, her parents so excited to see her plow into a highly refined white cupcake with thick pink frosting. By the time that little one is 20 months, she’ll likely be smiling and drooling, clutching oily chicken nuggets and french fries in her tiny fist. Before she learns to read, she’ll be able to ask for those unhealthy foods by name and recognize at least two fast-food restaurants by their trademarks.
Further, when that same little one hits kindergarten and starts eating school food, she will already be on an all-out slide to the SAD.
It is almost inevitable with the National School Lunch Program formulated, sponsored, marketed, and made possible by the powers that be. And so it goes. That is unless some conscientious, dedicated, and diligent adult intervenes.
How odd that our government consistently encourages eating and drinking dairy products even though cow’s milk is problematic for approximately 70% of the nation’s population. Also of note, milk is the number one source of saturated fat in children’s diets which contributes to the beginnings of heart disease. Additionally, a 2012 study published by the American Medical Association in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine showed that cow’s milk is detrimental to bone health. In that study, active children who consumed the largest amounts of milk experienced more bone fractures than those who consumed less.
Isn’t it curious that we don’t see prominent media messages anywhere telling parents to avoid this stuff?
Well, not really, not when the companies that make their money from selling these products hold the financial and political power.
Ok, yes, we know this. Right, as I said, it’s not news.
But, what can we do about it? How do we become the conscientious, dedicated, and diligent adults in the room? How do we stop the downhill slide to SAD? How can we protect our children, the most vulnerable members of our society?
I will be doing a deeper dive into these questions and more in the coming months.
In the meantime, check out these resources for some great ideas.
I mean, really. How we care for our most vulnerable is an accurate portrait of our character as a nation. For the last 30+ years, that has not been a pretty picture. Time to do better!
“Supplies alone do not guarantee man’s nutritional requirements. Even in developed countries, with ample supplies, serious health problems are caused by the wrong kinds and amounts of food. Not only inadequate distribution but also the rising cost of food dooms the poorest and the most vulnerable groups—children and mothers—to inferior quality as well as insufficient quantity of food. Even with massive gains in food production, the world could still be haunted by the specter of inadequate nutrition.” ~ excerpt from Kissinger’s Speech at World Food Parley in Rome 11/6/1974