Remember my Can You Resist $107 Worth of Advertising post from a few months ago? For those readers who missed it, this post discussed how the entire advertising budget of the entire food industry in the United States works out to only $107 per person per year.
In other words, in order to keep from spending ourselves silly, each consumer must resist the enormous pressure of about nine dollars a month in advertising. Nine bucks.
There was some excellent back and forth in the comments after that post, but one of the most intriguing comments came from the blogger who inspired the post in the first place, and there's a specific part of it I'd like to address directly:
"Yes, they may be spending "only" $107 on advertising per person. But they're spending even more than that on packaging design (expertly designed to manipulate us), research and development (designed to manipulate through taste, whether it's healthful or not), lobbying (food policy is such a huge component of this), and so much more."
Let me say first that I'm grateful for reactions like these from readers because they start conversations that make us all smarter and more savvy as consumers. But what I'd like to do is get at the subtext and the implications of this striking statement by asking three questions to readers:
1) Have you ever been "manipulated" to buy a food product by the design of the package?
2) Should food companies be required to sell food that doesn't taste very good?
3) Should owners of food companies be forbidden to advocate for themselves in the political system that we have collectively created? (Careful: this is a trick question.)
Readers, I want to know your thoughts to any or all of these questions. Share your reactions in the comments!
Once again, I owe an enormous debt of thanks to Andrew at Eating Rules for inspiring this post.
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