Saturday, February 23, 2013

Recent Interesting Articles About Food Part 1 (food, rambling, economics/politics)

There were a couple of very interesting articles about food in the mainstream media recently. I wanted to share them with everyone because they are thoughtful, interesting reads. I'm also going to offer up my opinions on certain points discussed in the articles because this is Rambling$ and Gambling$ after all and I haven't done any rambling in a while.

The first article comes from the New York Times and is adapted from an upcoming book about the snack food industry. It's a long read but well worth it. For part 2 click here.

He drew a connection to the last thing in the world the C.E.O.’s wanted linked to their products: cigarettes.
I thought this was very interesting. But to me, it also adds a new question. Is it the food making part of the company that's at fault for making such unhealthy things or is it the advertising part that's at fault for selling them? At least with tobacco there's no delusion of a life-sustaining product whereas food is sustenance, no matter how much of it is chemically created.
“Don’t talk to me about nutrition,” he reportedly said, taking on the voice of the typical consumer. “Talk to me about taste, and if this stuff tastes better, don’t run around trying to sell stuff that doesn’t taste good.”
But that's the crux of the problem. Does this stuff actually "taste" good? Or does it just make you feel good? There's a distinct difference but the food companies would have you believe it's the same. By focusing on making things addictive, what they're doing is making you feel good. For something to taste good, you need to be able to discern tastes, and I'm not sure the target demographic is very good at that.
He fundamentally changed the way the food industry thinks about making you happy
Again, the focus is on making people happy. And people do, in fact, play a role in this. Culturally, I think it is a very American belief that more/bigger = better. So the companies, all major corporations, not just the food industry, give them exactly that.
Lunchables were born. The trays flew off the grocery-store shelves.
My mom was a full time housewife and a great cook, but I still had my share of these during my childhood. I remember bringing one of these with me every day to summer camp. This is on a bit of a tangent, but one of the fundamental things that people are willing to spend money for is convenience. There is nothing wrong with that. But there is a big difference between "I am too busy to cook" and "I am too lazy to cook". I think that many of society's problems come from the fact that people as a whole have gotten lazier, and that laziness is continually reinforced by the people looking to make money off it.
Discover what consumers want to buy and give it to them with both barrels. Sell more, keep your job!
Once again, from both the consumer and producer side, we are taught more is better. Actually, not just taught. We are conditioned to think more is better to keep our jobs.
So when Finnish authorities moved to address the problem, they went right after the manufacturers.
That will never happen in the US. I have no delusions about that.
Their tools included a $40,000 device that simulated a chewing mouth to test and perfect the chips....
One of the great takeaways from this article is the realization of how much thought goes into every aspect of what seems to be a simple everyday product.
Imagine this...A potato chip that tastes great and qualifies for the Clinton-A.H.A. alliance for schools
This is another part of the problem. When we do have regulations and guidelines, a huge amount of money is spent trying to backdoor an existing product into qualifying, as opposed to creating new, better products. The most well known example being the "ketchup is a vegetable" controversy.
In Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta, the biggest consumers were referred to as “heavy users.”
Because, frankly, if you buy it, they don't care if you drink it or shoot it up your butt. Reminds me of an episode of ABC's Shark Tank, where a jewelry designer is looking for an investment and the "shark" says, "So what happens if I invest in you and then you get hit by a bus when you leave here?" Investors want corporations to have easily replaceable units and many corporations view their customers in the same way.
Coca-Cola strove to outsell every other thing people drank, including milk and water.
That's just downright scary.

1 comment :

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