Food for Thought

Grooming: The Power of Mass Media

Since I started writing Food For Thought articles, there have been many times when I have been challenged to find a topic. I like to keep the subjects positive and informative. I prefer the articles to have a new spin, even if it may be on an old idea. However, I have to admit that sometimes I am at a loss.

When I find myself struggling to write, I like to ask the universe for help before I go to sleep for the night. Then usually, I awake with an answer provided. Often it is in the form of some long-forgotten song that pops into my head when I wake up.

Last night I asked the universe for assistance. She worked her magic while I slept, and this morning, I woke up with “Kids are People Too,” the closing theme song from Wonderama, wack-a-doodling in my head.

For those of you that don’t know, Wonderama was a kids’ show that aired from 1957-1978. According to a blog on thestarryeye.typepad.com, the show originated from “WNEW-TV in New York City and appeared on the Metromedia-owned stations in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Cincinnati, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Kansas City.” Growing up in New Jersey, I watched many an episode of Wonderama on Sunday mornings.

Wonderama was a great demonstration of what we teach kids about food and treats and what we offer as rewards. Keep in mind this show was on about 50 to 60 years ago. You can Google the show and see clips of it if you like. Back then, TV channels were broadcasting the thrills of, and having kids cheer about, ice cream bars, Twinkies, Burger King, Bonanza Steak Pit, RC Cola, Andes Candies, Fancy Fruit Gum, and Charms Blow Pops. (Now advertising to kids is a little more sophisticated, and even more successful.) All this stuff was marketed directly to kids in major cities and their surrounding areas every Sunday morning.

I watched Wonderama a lot when I was in elementary school. And Wonderama was only one of many kids’ shows across the country.

Now, as a kid, all those foods and the associations with fun and rewards are hardwired with shortcuts into my brain. All that advertising and excitement, mixed with beliefs about love and acceptance, purposely co-mingled with images of poor quality food officially ties joy to refined pastries and links excitement to ice cream and candies. It also has the kids asking for Twinkies and Blow Pops more often.

Then, just for giggles, let’s say I live the next 50 years exposed to all the best advertising my country has to offer. During major holidays, significant sports events, end-of-season profit-boosting campaigns, riding in a cab or sitting in an airport and at every other opportunity, the marketeers hone their craft. Over time, we learn that companionship is married to fast food, and soft drinks create smiles. My choice of beer clearly has everything to do with real friendship and being cool. So that by the time I am 60, I have been expertly groomed to want overly sweet, uber salty, ultra-processed, mind-numbing food-like substances that I think make my life worth living. In reality, those eating patterns are correlated with increased rates of most of the major killer diseases. But wait…what?? That isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Is it?

Yes. For the sake of sales, we are continuously groomed to consume food-like substances that happen to make us ill. And I’ll take it one step further. Look now at the people with all the poor health conditions and how vulnerable they are to COVID-19. Research shows that people who adhere to a mostly plant-based diet, avoiding processed junk, are the least likely to have poor outcomes with COVID-19 infection.

https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/early/2021/05/18/bmjnph-2021-000272

Yet that is not the big message we get through our media channels. No one is really encouraged to revamp their approach to eating. We are not told that changing our diets could literally save our lives. Nope. To the contrary, the average medical professional, TV, radio, or social media platforms are not pushing broccoli, kale, berries, or whole grains and legumes, are they? That is not the drumbeat we hear whenever we tune in to mass media for the general public.

Isn’t that something?

SO since that message is being kept pretty quiet on the most commonly accessed channels, I will say it. EAT WHOLE UNPROCESSED PLANTS AT LEAST 80% OF THE TIME.

The more, the better. And avoid the processed junk even if it says it is vegan. Junk is Junk.

Seriously…back away from the Cheetos. Caramels are not really your friend.

REMEMBER we have a say in how our health plays out. We do not have to be pawns in the big chess game of foodstuff vs. our health. Start now, and you can take back your health.

Take a look at these two videos to get a clearer picture of how we are unwittingly groomed by advertisers to purchase their goods.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ahMQwxN9Js and  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLf2gOrL1iM

I also invite you to check out the resources tab on our website. Please let us know how we can support you in your wellness journey.

Contributing Writer: Meryl Fury

Meryl Fury is President and CEO of PBNM.org.  She is a Registered Nurse with a Masters Degree in Nursing.  Professionally, she has specialized in public health and underserved populations. Personally, she is mad about healthy eating. She enjoys everything about whole-life health, especially working with older people who can greatly benefit from the healing power of whole food plant-based eating. Meryl is the founder, and CEO of Balance Forward Health and Wellness, LLC, which focuses on playfully supporting people who want to attain vibrant health over the entire lifespan. You can read more about her on her website at www.balanceforwardhealthandwellness.com.