I have read the story of “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food” article before when I read Salt Fat Sugar and yet while I reread it, I found myself on the edge of my seat thanks to the author’s creative presentation style. Sentences along the lines of “the CEOs arrive by town car under the cloak of night to conspire against the American population, promoting obesity and hypertension, plotting to make loyal the children of tomorrow” are used expertly to set up the CEOs as the villains in the entertaining albeit one-sided article. Perhaps Michael Moss could give Mark Bittman a couple creative writing pointers. As a consumer, the article made me feel empowered. I have all this knowledge about nutrition I can use to resist the marketers’ goal of selling unhealthy products. If I choose to purchase the product, I can then use my ability to limit myself to a serving or exercise to make up for the added calories. I believe in being an informed consumer. I Google ingredients in the aisles at the grocery store and read scientific research behind fad diets. Just the other day I found myself laughing aloud in the salad dressing aisle at one of the latest marketing ploys, “the oils in Wish-Bone Salad Dressing help the body better absorb vitamins A and E from salad.” What they don’t tell you on the bottle is that vitamins A and E are fat soluble, so the oils in any dressing or any fat eaten in the same timeframe as an undressed salad will help them to be better absorbed. An informed consumer would Google this claim right there in the store and find Wish-Bone isn’t using some miracle oil, but merely using oil’s natural capabilities to sell their products.
People affect their own health. The industry is merely an outside source for the food. People have to buy into what the industry is selling, weak people consume too much. Even whole foods can be detrimental to health in gluttonous amounts. Just because it’s a whole grain grown on the cleanest organic farm watered with the tears of firstborn babies and harvested by the world’s oldest vegan, doesn’t mean your body won’t break down the excess carbs to be stored as fat deposits. And those whole grains wouldn’t be sold without the help of some clever marketers advertising the innumerable benefits of the first born baby tear watering methods. Whole foods are marketed and can cause health issues too, but the people who take the time to seek or be sought by these foods likely have health goals they think the product will help them achieve. Why feel helpless at the hands of the marketers, when you can realize their goals and stick to your own? Everyone always wants to find someone else to blame besides themselves, the ones literally putting the food in their mouths. Maybe instead of blaming the companies whose job it is to sell food, we could blame the mothers whose job it is to feed children. Instead of blaming the extra salt, fat, and sugar in Lunchables, we could blame the moms who find it absolutely impossible to allot 30 minutes on a Sunday to prep nutritious foods for their kids to eat for lunch all week to ensure healthy growth and futures. I’ve grown pretty tired of the excuses and reasonings of people who think industry made them obese and food scientists gave them diabetes and hypertension. If they could own up to their lack of self-control and make better choices for themselves, the country wouldn’t be in its current health crisis, but that is asking an awful lot. Let’s just blame someone else instead. It would be interesting to work in the industry, to have the ability to make people forget about everything they know about nutrition for the sake of selling a product, to play off the weaknesses of the general public, making billions of dollars while you’re at it. People will always need food.
So many analogies can speak about this nonissue, yet people still try to blame the industry. Just because a car has the ability to go fast, does not mean it’s the car manufacturer’s fault when someone drives recklessly and gets hurt, without a mechanical malfunction a la Pinto. When someone shoots another person, the shooter is arrested not the gun manufacturer, even though the gunsmith made the gun look extra flashy to improve sales and maybe even cheap for purchase at a local Walmart. Of course, somewhere is some anti-gun sect trying to hold the manufacturers responsible… But why is it the food manufacturer’s fault when a person overeats and becomes overweight? Because people cannot take responsibility for themselves and their choices, nor the choices they make for their children. They expect others to always look out for them and theirs, and we do. Taxpayers will pay to remedy the mistakes of others until the end of time. God Bless America.
My top three junk foods are probably Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, donuts, and sugary cereal. In moderation these foods are fine. They are considered junk food because they’re high in fat and sugar and taste good, all things that aren’t an issue when eaten with a little self-control. They’re chocolatey, rich, and delicious. Bravo, food scientists! I would spend $5 on the smallest portion of that Half Baked ice cream any day. People need to stop acting like victims of the food industry and start realizing foodies are just great at their jobs, creating amazing food and making billions of dollars. Maybe such victims could be motivated by this ingenuity and success in their own lives so that they don’t have to eat cheap processed food from gas stations. Ah, but the life of a food industry victim is so much easier. I made chocolate donut holes with cream cheese frosting. I created a secret recipe using oat flour, egg, cocoa powder, vinegar, coconut oil, honey, and vanilla and cream cheese, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar for the frosting. They were dense and chocolatey, but not too sweet. I cooked them on the stove using a fancy pan instead of frying them so their fat content is mostly good fat. They’re even gluten free for those who buy into that. Mark and I aren’t even on the same playing field anymore.