A new article in the medical journal PLoS Medicine takes aim at the huge food and beverage makers who peddle fast food, processed food and sugary soft drinks, saying they are using the same tactics as Big Tobacco to avoid taking any responsibility for the epidemic of obesity and the medical complications that come with it, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint problems and more.
The food produced by these companies is less nutritious and far more fattening than fresh food, but even after their heavy marketing and their influence on government not to be regulated, Big Food blames its victims for not taking responsibility for their own weight.
These companies market their bad food to children (toaster tarts, sodas, sugary cereals, “chicken” nuggets, cheese-food product, deep-fried chips and fast food), who then pester their parents. Often, parents have little or no idea how bad these foods are; they often join their children in feasting on this stuff.
Unfortunately, there are just too many opportunities to eat junk. I gave blood yesterday and was offered a free lunch — fast food from several restaurants. I declined and went and got some real food.
My 19-year-old granddaughter gave up soft drinks (soda and sweet tea) nine weeks ago and has lost 15 pounds already — without doing anything else.
A study 10 or so years ago found that for every soda a child drinks per day, he or she adds 4 pounds of excess body weight in a year (one soda a day, 4 pounds, two sodas a day, 8 pounds, etc.)
Most sweet drinks are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup now and despite what the “corn sugar” industry says, your body does know the difference. The more high-fructose corn syrup you ingest, the more likely you are to develop Type 2 diabetes. The stuff is metabolized differently than sugar and it affects the way your body makes and uses insulin.
And speaking of corn, the toxin used to genetically modify Monsanto’s sweet corn kills bugs by causing their stomachs to rupture. Monsanto claims the toxin disappears after the corn is harvested, but rats that were fed the corn displayed organ damage and the toxin has been found in the tissues of pregnant women.
Even so, Congress killed the attempt by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to require Monsanto and others to label its genetically modified foods.
Big Food has big sway over government. That’s how sugar got into the food pyramid, and how Monsanto got to force more farmers to use its seeds. It owns the DNA structure of its corn and if the corn cross-pollinates with that on another farm, Monsanto sues the farmer for patent infringement. So family farms are going under and Monsanto just buys up more land to grow its corn.
Industrially farmed meats also are less nutritious, and less safe. The meats are higher in saturated fats and cholesterol and the meat is filled with growth hormones and antibiotic, leading to more resistant and deadly strains of bacteria. They also have less flavor than animals fed what they should be eating.
If Big Food was so safe, why do we have so many people who are both obese and malnourished?
Yet these Big Food companies are influencing nutrition all over the globe. They join in public-private partnerships with governments and with the United Nations as “experts” on nutrition and peddle their bad food and bad policy.
So, how do we fight them? Simple. Eat local food. Go to tailgate markets to do your shopping. Buy organic when you can’t get something locally. Make more things from scratch so you know what’s in your food. Grow some of your own food. If you don’t have room for a ground garden, have a patio garden.
Yes, it’s somewhat more expensive, but you will have lower medical costs, and you will learn to appreciate and understand good nutrition.
When my kids were little, I baked all their snacks from scratch. They wanted the forbidden Hostess and Little Debbie cakes, but once they tried them, they realized homemade tastes better. It’s also a lot cheaper and it’s not hard to make.
When you become aware of what you’re putting into your body, you begin to foil Big Food. They’re counting on you to believe what they say is good for you.
Want to know more about good and bad food? Try reading Michael Pollan’s “Omnivore’s Dilemma” or “In Defense of Food,” or Marion Nestle’s “Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.” You can also rent the movie, “Food Inc.”
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your food.