The Food Disinformation Campaign
Walking down the aisle of a supermarket that carries 40,000 food items, trying to figure out which foods are better for you can be a daunting task. The surprising thing is; most food manufacturers want to keep it that way. Whenever plans are proposed to make reading a food label easier, food companies spend billions to prevent it.
An example of that is a system developed by the Food Standard Agency in the United Kingdom. A simple “traffic light” was proposed to go on every food package, bringing attention to the salt, sugar and fat of the food inside. Red meant it was high in something unhealthy, yellow was a mild warning and green was good.
Here’s what the World Cancer Research Fund said about the traffic light labels. “Importantly, research has shown that the traffic light scheme is more accessible and easier to interpret for all consumers, particularly those from lower socio-economic groups. This is important as overweight and obesity hit these groups hardest.”
The U.K. government saw it as an opportunity to “‘nudge’ the food industry to reformulate their products (to reduce salt, sugar and saturated fat content).”
Food companies hated it. They started attacking it by claiming that the “nanny state” was trying to dictate what was good for you and what was bad. Articles screamed “big government” wanted to limit consumer’s freedom of choice. Over the next few years, food companies spent $1,400,000,000 (one BILLION, four hundred MILLION DOLLARS) to defeat the proposal.
In the end, a bland label that simply listed the GDA “Guideline Daily Amount” with a percentage was chosen. When consumers were asked to rate foods with the GDA labels, it resulted in confusion and misinterpretation, exactly what the food companies wanted.
In the United States, an even more radical system was being proposed around 2009 called NuVal. NuVal worked by giving all food a score from 1 to 100. The higher the NuVal number, the higher the nutritional value of the food.
What made NuVal so powerful is that the EXACT SAME nutritional criteria were applied to ALL foods. When you go looking at cereal, you weren’t just comparing your choice against other cereals. With NuVal, you’d be comparing that cereal, against everything else in the supermarket.
If you walked down the snack and granola bar aisle with the NuVal information, you’d quickly notice that the average bar has a score of about 14. Even more enlightening, national brands that sound healthy were exposed as nutritionally empty. The Nature Valley Granola Bars - Sweet & Salty Nut Cashew scored a rating of 5 and the Kellogg's Special K Cereal Bars - Vanilla Crisp were a pathetic 2.
NuVal made choosing healthy food as simple as searching for the highest numbers. You could still choose the healthier chips by comparing their scores, but you won't be misled into believing potato chips were a healthy choice.
So what happened to Nuval? The original concept is gone. That simple scoring from 1-100 has been replaced with a label that Nuval says, “guide consumers to foods and beverages with specific properties (such as Gluten Free, Organic, and Low Sodium) that can help them live a healthier lifestyle.”
The idea was killed because food companies don’t want you to know the truth about the food you’re eating. Making comparisons that are easy to understand is so threatening to food companies bottom line, they would do almost anything to stop it. It’s not the nanny state we have to worry about, but rather “nanny companies.”
Nanny companies are corporations so powerful, they can kill any meaningful measure put forth by governments to protect the lives of citizens. Through massive disinformation campaigns, they hide the deadly truth about their products and claim any restrictions are an assault on consumer freedom.
You can fight back, but it takes work. Fill your shopping cart with minimally processed foods. Buy more whole fruits and vegetables and learn how to cook them. To help you out, I’ve posted hundreds of healthy recipes on WeCookFit.com. Learn how to cook just one recipe a week and put your favorites on a regular rotation. Over time you’ll save money, you’ll be eating healthier and you’ll be sticking a finger in the eye of the nanny company.
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