A four part series examining the United States Government’s relationship with the agricultural industry and how that directly affects your family’s health
So far, we have examined the United States governmental hold on our food supply and how subsidized foods are dangerous to our health. Corn, the number one subsidized food in this country, is processed and manipulated into everything from high fructose corn syrup to feed for cattle. The Agricultural Department and the Food and Drug Administration have created an additive, detrimental food supply, contributing to our country’s ill health and obesity.
The Grocery Manufactures of America want to sell cheap processed foods, at higher prices in order to increase their profits. The distribution of processed foods is much cheaper and less risky than vegetables or fruits. Because processed foods can sit in a storage facility without refrigeration, those products have a longer shelf life. Whereas, fruits and vegetables, once harvested are on a time crunch to get them packaged and shipped to the local supermarket. Therefore, processed foods are guaranteed residual profit.
Each year the Food Marketing Institute holds an conference where new food items are introduced, which 90% of those items contain subsidized crops. These new products contain exactly what we should be eating less of. Still, Chip Kunde of the Grocery Manufactures of American contends the mass distribution of low cost, processed foods is not the root of the obesity problem in America. In a 2009 interview with Peter Jennings, Mr. Kunde said, “eating less will not solve the obesity problem. Lack of exercise is the cause of the obesity problem.”
I have asked three separate internal medicine doctors – all of which agree, physical activity will not solve your overweight problem! All of the doctors I spoke with adamantly contend, what matters is the kind of food you eat and how much you eat.
However, if the public were to start eating less, and eating more healthy foods, it would be detrimental, almost catastrophic for the agricultural industry.
Author Marion Nestle explains the food industry’s strategy for encouraging processed foods as follows:
- Encourages eating more frequently – at every special occasion
- Eating larger portions
Barry Popkin, Professor of Nutrition at UNC at Chapel Hill agrees, “in the 60’s and 70’s, we were eating low-fat, health snacks, like milk and fruit. Now, we are eating high salt, high fat, unhealthy snacks, like chips and candy.” Which is a direct correlation in the rise of heart disease, diabetes and other “bad” diet related illnesses.
Headed in the right direction
Whole Foods, one of the largest health-conscious grocery stores in America, maintains a list of “Unacceptable Ingredients for Food,” of which they will not carry. The list contains over 78 ingredients, such as aspartame, MSG, and high fructose corn syrup. Most of the “banned ingredients” are exactly what you would find in processed foods. In addition to its restrictions on ingredients, Whole Foods also bans food items based on concerns about animal welfare, genetically modified organisms, and sustainability. With 300 locations nationwide, Whole Foods says they are giving their demographic what they want. Compared with WalMart, the largest grocery store chain in the country, if all 78 ingredients banned by Whole Foods are taken into account, roughly 54 percent of food items sold at a Walmart would be prohibited at Whole Foods.
Michael Mudd, former Vice-President of Kraft was trying to make a difference when he retired in 2004. He had ordered a wholesale review of all of Kraft’s products, to make “small, meaningful” changes, to promote more healthy nutrition. He stated in a 2013 interview, “I left the industry when I finally had to acknowledge that reform would never come from within. I could no longer accept a business model that put profits over public health — and no one else should have to, either.”
Responsibility of the food industry
The food industry does not accept responsibility for the obesity epidemic in adults. Chip Kunde claims it is a matter of personal choice. However, Dr. David Ludwig, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard argues, “there’s the incessant advertising and marketing of the poorest quality foods imaginable.” Furthermore, “the food industry would love to explain obesity as a problem of personal responsibility, since it takes the onus off them for marketing fast food, soft drinks, and other high-calorie, low-quality products.” See for quote
In 2013, the food and beverage industry as a whole spent a total of 136.53 million U.S. dollars on advertising. The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, based at Yale University believe that the number and frequency of food and beverage television advertisements, particularly those aimed at children, has contributed to the level of obesity in America. Our final installment will be an examination and how the food industry markets to our children.
ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES