Over the past few days many food bloggers have been sharing and reacting to this intriguing NY Times article about the food industry:
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food
The most common reaction I've seen is a mixture of fear and revulsion: "How can these companies be so savage and relentless in how they market food to us! These greedy companies make us all fat!"
Which is fine. This is exactly the reaction you're supposed to have. It's the reaction that the New York Times and its editors want, and it's why the article is there in the first place.
But I'd like to offer a different reaction: I believe this article is fundamentally disempowering and condescending towards consumers.
It's easy to blame packaged food companies like Pillsbury, Kraft and General Mills for "relentlessly selling" delicious food, yet we consumers are the ones who pick bags of it off the shelf, lug it to the checkout counter, fish money out of our pockets to pay for it, and then take it home with us and eat it.
What's also interesting is how we naturally want companies in every other industry to give us what we want. But when the food industry gives us what we want, somehow, that's .... not what we want. Somehow it's the food industry's fault for selling us the very food that we consent to buy. Look around the universe of food, diet and health blogs and you'll see this mindset everywhere. This is an enormous and deeply disempowering leap of illogic, and it ignores what should be an obvious and empowering fact: we do not have to consent to buy processed, pre-packaged food products from these companies at all.
Are we such zombies that we have to force the food industry to sell only bad-tasting food that no one wants?
Readers, are you troubled by the subtext here? Share your thoughts!
The Sad, Quiet Death of Campbell's Low-Sodium Soup
Zombies, Processed Foods and the Advertising-Consumption Cycle
Ending Overeating: An Interview With Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler
How to Give Away Your Power By Being a Biased Consumer
Survivor Bias: Why Big Food Isn't Quite As Evil As You Think It Is
Can You "Engineer" a Food To Be Healthier?
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