“Moms Love Processed Food” and “Sugar is Good For You”


These two lies are often implied by the marketing of some Big Food companies. But why are big food companies so interested in hijacking nutrition? And how do they do it?

We recently reported on the overwhelming corporate influence on school nutrition and nutrition in general. Delving more deeply into the topic, Andy Bellatti of Civil Eats gives a full account of a position paper (which is not a scientific study, by the way) published by the American Society for Nutrition in which they attempt to posit that processed food is good for you.

When we examine nutrition through a reductionist lens of grams of fiber or percentages of vitamins and minerals and ignore actual ingredient lists, it’s easier to make an argument for the “healthier” versions of highly processed foods.

A serving of 22 almonds does not offer the iron, vitamin A, vitamin D, or vitamin B12 (all fortified) that Froot Loops do. The almonds do, however, have heart-healthy fats and antioxidants (which are not reflected on a nutrition label) without the added sugar or artificial additives. But the real tragedy here is that by ASN’s account, sugary cereals and dry roasted almonds both fit into the same category of processed foods.”

And that sets the stage for two pieces of news this week that are both laughable lies from the food industry. The first revelation comes via food activist and writer Anna Lappe and Aljazeera America who recently wrote on Big Food companies developing aggressive marketing strategies centered on wooing “Mommy Bloggers” with high-traffic blogs to speak well of their businesses. Lappe explains how Monsanto recently catered to a select group of bloggers to teach them how food impacts the environment. We can assume that Monsanto gave an extremely biased report. Lappe goes onto explain that attempts to sway public opinion through giving specific information to targeted bloggers is a new trend in food business:

Monsanto is not the only food company engaging with the blogosphere. Mommy bloggers are the food industry’s newest nontraditional ally. McDonald’s has been wooing them aggressively too, offering sweepstakes in partnership with BlogHer for the company’s Listening Tour Luncheon, an exclusive event with the head of McDonald’s USA — framed as a two-way conversation about nutrition, but more likely a gambit to garner the support of a powerful group of influencers. And in Canada, McDonald’s offers All-Access Mom, behind-the-scenes tours of the company’s inner workings.”

The problem here, of course, is that these companies can show and tell their invite-only guests whatever they want about their operations, without uncovering any of the truth. Sneaky, eh?

On a much less sneaky note — which we think is so ridiculous that it really is funny — in response to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)’s sugar tax bill, Coca Cola VP Dr. Rhonda Applebaum tweeted the following:

Coke clearly wants us to believe that without their product, we will all die. The link which she gives, by the way, gives vague references (but no citations) to work done by a group of scientists who concluded that if we ate no sugar at all (i.e., none from fruits and veggies, etc.) then we would die. Yes, that is true, but anyone with common sense could tell you that there is a pretty large difference between cauliflower and Coke.


 Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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