On food blogs all over the internet, and in most of the conversations we have in the real world, there is an ugly lie that contaminates and deeply distorts our views about food:
"Food companies are evil."
It's the worst lie we can possibly tell our readers.
I know I've got some explaining to do, so stay with me. First of all, companies are not evil. They don't have feelings. They aren't people. They aren't anything.
The real truth is that companies simply make and sell products and services because there is demand for the products and services they make and sell.
Question: Who created that demand? After all, the last time you went to Chili's (or Applebees's, or McDonald's or wherever) and mindlessly ate a processed, hyperpalatable meal, did you do so against your will? Did some sniveling marketing executive put a gun to your head and force you to buy that $4.49 bag of Doritos? Are you overweight because somebody force-fed you and then forbade you to exercise? Are you really that powerless?
To whine about "Big Food," or to blame the Evil Food Industry for cultural problems like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease is utterly pointless. It is futile and emasculating. You're giving all your power away to the food industry and then sitting there whimpering and wringing your hands.
Fact: The food industry has no power over us at all. On the contrary, the food industry exists to serve us! What Big Food does simply reflects what we as consumers want. And to buy products from the food industry and then turn around and blame it for being greedy because it sells us the very products we buy is the absolute height of hypocrisy. Please remember this and stop whining.
Understanding this concept is the key to subverting the food industry, because it jolts you into taking your power back into your own hands. It stops you from mewling and complaining about Big Food and instead encourages you to stand up and take responsibility for the decisions you make with your food dollars and with your diet.
Stand up and demand foods that are healthy and reasonably priced. They are out there, and they are surprisingly easy to find (here's a long list of laughably cheap and easy recipes you can use to help you get started). Buy these foods, and then talk to the manager of your grocery store and tell him or her that you'd like to see more foods like this on the shelves.
Adopt empowering spending habits. Don't be a drone and buy the same items at the same grocery store every week. Spend your consumer dollars on a wider range of food products, and visit a wider range of markets and stores in your community. Finally, don't waste your money on processed and heavily-advertised foods--instead, allocate your food dollars to products that provide real value to you.
If just a fraction of the general public took these steps, the food industry would break its own back bending over backwards to meet our demand. Until then, however, we will get the food industry we deserve.
Who holds the power now?
Addendum: Readers! Be sure to check out this follow-up article in which I address a logic error present in many of the strongest objections to this post.
Survivor Bias: Why "Big Food" Isn't Quite As Evil As You Think It Is
Obesity and the Obama Administration: A Blogger Roundtable Discussion
Dumb and Dumber: The Flaws of Measuring Food Costs Using Cost Per Nutrient and Cost Per Calorie
The Pros and Cons of Restaurant Calorie Labeling Laws
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