Thursday, July 09, 2015

Food Is the Tobacco of Our Generation

A bold statement, to be sure, but I believe we will look back on our current food culture with the same how-did-we-let-that-go-on shock (anger?) that many of us experienced as the conspiracies of the tobacco industry were uncovered.

When large profits are involved, a perfect storm can form that combines blissful ignorance, willful blindness, and malicious deception. Which is why how we think about education--either as a form of intellectual capacity-building or as the compliant absorption of facts--is so important: education is either the foundation of intellectual restraint on aggregations of power and control, or it ends up actually be the enabler of the same.

For consideration:
  • Poor diets may lower children's IQDiets high in fat, sugar and processed foods are lowering children's IQ, a new study suggests. The report says that eating habits among three year olds shapes brain performance as they get older. A predominantly processed-food diet at the age of three is directly associated with a lower IQ at the age of eight and a half, according to a Bristol-based study of thousands of British children.
  • Key brand names owned by tobacco companies (including food companies)
  • The Perils of Ignoring History: Big Tobacco Played Dirty and Millions Died. How Similar Is Big Food? "Context: In 1954 the tobacco industry paid to publish the “Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers” in hundreds of U.S. newspapers. It stated that the public's health was the industry's concern above all others and promised a variety of good-faith changes. What followed were decades of deceit and actions that cost millions of lives. In the hope that the food history will be written differently, this article both highlights important lessons that can be learned from the tobacco experience and recommends actions for the food industry. Findings: The tobacco industry had a playbook, a script, that emphasized personal responsibility, paying scientists who delivered research that instilled doubt, criticizing the “junk” science that found harms associated with smoking, making self-regulatory pledges, lobbying with massive resources to stifle government action, introducing “safer” products, and simultaneously manipulating and denying both the addictive nature of their products and their marketing to children. The script of the food industry is both similar to and different from the tobacco industry script. Conclusions: Food is obviously different from tobacco, and the food industry differs from tobacco companies in important ways, but there also are significant similarities in the actions that these industries have taken in response to concern that their products cause harm. Because obesity is now a major global problem, the world cannot afford a repeat of the tobacco history, in which industry talks about the moral high ground but does not occupy it."
  • Food Industry Pursues the Strategy of Big Tobacco by : Yale Environment 360
  • "Recently, Brownell and Kenneth E. Warner — a prominent tobacco researcher who is Dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health — met at a conference and began discussing the similar legal, political, and business strategies traditionally employed by “Big Tobacco” and the tactics now being used by “Big Food.” Struck by the common playbook that both industries have used and concerned about the public health impacts of industry actions, Brownell and Warner decided to explore the topic more deeply. The result was a paper published earlier this year in the health policy journal, the Milbank Quarterly: “The Perils of Ignoring History: Big Tobacco Played Dirty and Millions Died. How Similar Is Big Food?” As Brownell explained in an interview with Yale Environment 360 senior editor Fen Montaigne, many of the tactics currently being used by Big Food now mirror those used by U.S. tobacco giants as they successfully fought Kelly D. Brownell off regulation for decades, thereby contributing to the deaths of millions of Americans."
  • Big Food is Much Worse Than Big Tobacco Ever Was
  • Food flavor safety system a ‘black box’ | Center for Public Integrity
  • "But the organization responsible for the safety of most “natural” and “artificial” flavors that end up in foods and beverages isn’t part of the U.S. government. Rather, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association — a secretive food industry trade group that has no in-house employees, no office of its own and a minuscule budget — serves as the de-facto regulator of the nation’s flavor additives."
  • USDA Food Pyramid History "The USDA revised the food pyramid in 2010. As expected, the panel of "experts" advising the USDA were all proponents of the low fat, high carb diet. The wealth of gold standard research supporting a lower carb diet and reduced grain consumption was NOT reviewed, and sure enough, the pyramid continues to recommend the products that benefit agricultural and food processing interests."
  • A Fatally Flawed Food Guide by Luise Light, Ed.D
  • "Carefully reviewing the research on nutrient recommendations, disease prevention, documented dietary shortfalls and major health problems of the population, we submitted the final version of our new Food Guide to the Secretary of Agriculture. When our version of the Food Guide came back to us revised, we were shocked to find that it was vastly different from the one we had developed. As I later discovered, the wholesale changes made to the guide by the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture were calculated to win the acceptance of the food industry."
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