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Even though it’s no breaking news that fruits and vegetables are good for us, people still have a hard time eating them.  As a nutritionist and now dietitian this puzzled me for years. After all, it’s not necessarily because they’re more expensive (we spend a lot of money on other things we don’t need) or because they are tasteless. I just didn’t get it.

But as a matter of fact, it’s the result of a food system that’s far from being ethical or sustainable, yet extremely profitable to an incredible amount of people.

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Corporate Food Companies

Indeed, the growing waistline in western society along with an array of chronic disease is blamed on overeating, lack of exercise or expensive costs of healthy food. But we never hear it’s systematically happening thanks to corporate food companies and their global ties to governments, the media, the restaurant business, and even the healthcare and fitness industry to name a few.

Because of these affiliations, those corporate companies have control over everything we eat (or don’t eat) from production to consumption. Everyone needs to eat and therefore the demand has created a multi-billion dollar industry that will not economically benefit from a nutritionally educated consumer base.

Food Nutrition

Typical issues that people inquire about food or nutrition are related to weight loss and recently optimal health. Whether based on scientific research or not, a new diet trend will concurrently emerge over time. Sadly, to find the magic potion for food modification to follow these trends or health claims, seems to be the Holy grail of the food industry. Not knowing who or what to believe about healthy eating brings a lot of anxiety and stress.

Although dietary advice is very conflicting (and should be taken seriously from an expert in the field), nutrition principles are as simple as can be: you need calories and nutrients that come from food, but there needs to be a balance between these two. While some foods have the power to energize and nourish our bodies, others can debilitate and cause illness when intake is out of balance with our body’s needs.

Our busy suburban lives, long hour work-shifts with short breaks for meals, and many other factors added up with the confusion and overwhelming propaganda about food, have led us into less physical activity and mindless eating. Just about anywhere you look you’ll be told or recommended “to eat this and not that”.

Food Industry

So often these “recommendations” are highly influenced by the need to produce profit from the food industry. Backed with billions in their pockets and extremely talented marketing teams, companies bombard us with nutrition messages labeled on their products such as low-fat, sugar-free, low-sodium, 100% whole grains, zero trans-fat, organic, omega-3′s, gluten-free and so on.

Most people have no clue of what all that means, but it sure sounds appealing. Our minds tend to think that these products have fewer calories, so we buy them and eat twice as much. Unfortunately, a great deal of what we find in supermarkets has been manipulated to the point where it’s hardly food. It may look the part, but it’s simply a product. Most food products have been engineered by food scientists to make them taste great therefore creating an insatiable appetite for whatever bait company “x,y or z” is looking to sell the consumer.

Food Industry Marketing

Just think that no matter the health claim of a certain food, nutrient, or diet, the food industry will send in its “marketeers” for disruption. I wouldn’t be surprised to eventually find “Organic Cheetos” in the grocery store.

Obviously low-income families and unfortunately our children are more susceptible to the marketing of uncountable food items. But none are exempt and through no fault of our own, we rely on the same advertisements for information. It is up to us to think critically and make the intelligent fact based decisions.

We may not have control over an entire food system, but we do have control over our lives and our choices. We can take small steps into a healthier lifestyle without feeling guilt for food or giving up our favourite foods. It shouldn’t be this way. Food should only be meant to nourish our bodies and savor the moment of the meal. Food should not be the primary cause of illness or excessive weight gain.

So now the question is: How far are we willing to go in order to make some positive changes?

 

About the author

Antony Fuller

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