Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Food marketing rant

Maggie says:
I get so annoyed with supermarkets, huge "food" companies, and brainless consumerism. In this Salon review of Michael Pollan's new book "In Defense of Food," this Pollan sentence was highlighted: "For a food product to make health claims on its package, it must first have a package, so right off the bat it's more likely to be a processed than a whole food." Thank you, Michael Pollan. This is a favorite tear that Marion Nestle, another supermarket cynic and a leading nutritionist/food writer, gets on, too. Nestle is fantastic at consistently reminding us that supermarkets are designed to make profits, not to make us healthier, and that we should avoid the center aisles of them like the plague and never trust big food corporations. What's especially problematic for me is how aggressively this marketing is geared toward female dieters... it's all so cheap and gendered and false.

Now enter Jezebel, a fluff site that serves as daily brain candy for me. They run the gamut from snarky commentary to celeb photos to insider media gossip, much of it surprisingly smart. But they have rants like this, too, which warm my heart when I have a headache, and thus I paste it in full here:

Jezebel: 100-Calorie Snacks are the Downfall of American Civilization

100-calorie snacks are, among many other things, the reason I despise the word "innovation" when used in the context of the defense of market capitalism. Inventing the Dorito: that is "innovation." Crushing nine Doritos into small pieces and selling them in miniature bags because our landfills aren't being occupied fast enough is just...at best, it is baby food. A hundred calories is a retarded unit of food to try to consume. People in GULAGS didn't dole out food in 100-calorie increments. And the type of food that comes in 100-calorie packs is precisely that sinister brand of carbs that were invented with the sole purpose of making you want MORE. And, of course, if you spend the 256% unit price markup for the luxury of buying your food in 100-calorie portions, that's the nice thing: you're allowed to have more than one. Encouraged, even! That's the innovation. Of course, the 100-calorie snack packs prey on our perceptions that we have no self-control. But consider this: of all the reasons psychologists have been pointed to for conspiring to make us binge on massive quantities of food, that's number one -- the sense you've lost control. (Well, that and pot.) (Also, I'm sort of making that up, but it's true.)

So why buy into that evil notion? Why not just, say, eat when you're hungry? Skip dinner if you go overboard? Go take a walk, change into sweatpants, whatevs? Because it wouldn't feed the CYCLE. The cycle tempting, daring, BEGGING us all to buy something, ANYTHING, to help us cope with the fact that we hate ourselves. It started with King Size snickers bars and Super Size meals and double quarter-pounders and ended with Alli and Anna Nicole Smith's tragic, tragic death.

It's a cycle I see before me every time I find myself confronted with a drugstore rack of 100-calorie snack packs.

Break the cycle.

And oh yeah, don't forget not to buy the new 100-calorie Girl Scout cookies.