April 6, 2010

Food industry duped us into 'embracing junk food'

Kennebec Journal Staff

Why are we obese?

For the past few decades, our culture has disparaged real food. People who ate pine nuts, granola or wheat germ were dismissed as hippies or health nuts; wheat grass shakes and carrot juice smoothies were condemned as weird amalgams only pretentious, self-absorbed radicals would ingest.

Instead, everyone was and is encouraged to chow down Oreos, Twinkies and potato chips, to snack on candy bars and suck down soda -- these foods are free of any negative cultural baggage -- normal, unassuming average-Joe-Americans eat them daily, along with hot dogs, hamburgers, french fries and an array of other unhealthful foods.

Through advertising, junk food has become imbued with positive qualities -- exuberant, healthy-looking people swill and swallow government-subsidized high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and an array of preservatives and sodium.

Sugar-filled breakfast cereals and highly processed microwavable after-school snacks are endorsed by incredibly hip and awesomely cool young people and their convenience-loving mothers.

The food industry duped us all into embracing junk food, while encouraging us to disparage and wholeheartedly eschew real food. Over the years, while we were being fed all of this baloney along with our white bread, we were creating a cultural bias against vegetables and natural food items, to the point of ridiculing President Barack Obama when he showed shock over the price of arugula.

Why is it good to eat peanut butter cups (have you read the list of ingredients?) and arrogant and subversive to eat salad greens and vegetables? Is this not a ludicrous concept?

Corporate America has not only claimed victory, but has also lobbied the government to subsidize their major ingredients -- corn, wheat and soybeans -- in order to keep junk food prices low.

Why are we such dupes?

Susan E. Melcher


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