Weekend Open Thread: Crunch Time for Junk Food?


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You might enjoy reading this article from the NY Times Magazine that addresses the notion that the junk food companies are, in effect and practice, pretty much equivalent of the tobacco companies that added nicotine to cigarettes to keep consumers addicted to deadly tar and other carcinogens.  Here is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a taste:

French Fries and Cigarettes in Smoking Skull cartonThe public and the food companies have known for decades now — or at the very least since this meeting — that sugary, salty, fatty foods are not good for us in the quantities that we consume them. So why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive. I talked to more than 300 people in or formerly employed by the processed-food industry, from scientists to marketers to C.E.O.’s. Some were willing whistle-blowers, while others spoke reluctantly when presented with some of the thousands of pages of secret memos that I obtained from inside the food industry’s operations. What follows is a series of small case studies of a handful of characters whose work then, and perspective now, sheds light on how the foods are created and sold to people who, while not powerless, are extremely vulnerable to the intensity of these companies’ industrial formulations and selling campaigns.

That — and the rest — is worth reading.  But also worth reading is the first letter from a reader, a woman named Carolyn Egeli of Valley Lee, Md., who wrote (with my having made some very slight grammar and spelling corrections.: 

In this whole very large article, there was not one word about genetically modified food, hybridized wheat or high fructose corn syrup and the science surrounding the addictive attributes of these substances. The science exists, but the media steadfastly refuses to follow up on it. Fat, sugar, salt, etc are not harmful. It is what has been done to our normal food, that has caused our illnesses. Cargill, Monsanto, Kraft, Pillsbury, etc, etc. are all participants in the industrial food system that has made a few generations of humans very sick. You can see a direct connection with the rise of our major modern diseases and the rise of GMOs, hybridized wheat, and high fructose corn syrup. Irradiation, preservatives, and other modern methods of food processing, has sealed the coffin on the public’s health, with our colons deprived of good bacteria and natural enzymes. It is no wonder our healthcare costs have skyrocketed and the pharms are making a killing.

I’m sort of sorry to hand this on a platter to you, as the article is worth reading on its own and the letter is a completely different smack on the back of the head.  So try to forget that you read it before you read the article; I include it because otherwise I expect that it may become hard to find.

This is your Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about this, talk about other things, talk about whatever you wish within broad bounds of decency and decorum.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)