Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Food Politics

Version 0.2

Discussion Questions derived from Food Politics by Marion Nestle

Quite a good book in many ways, but mostly it made me think about some extended questions and even paradoxes that were not addressed:
  1. Isn't it a paradox that the food companies valued the reputation of the FDA and wanted to exploit it whenever it was possible to get approval from the FDA, but meanwhile the same companies were acting to destroy the effectiveness and ultimately the good reputation of the FDA that they were so eager to exploit?
  2. Isn't it a winning situation for the food companies to make more obese people precisely because fat people need to eat more to sustain their fat?
  3. Don't the food companies want inefficiency such as feeding 10 pounds of grain to cows to produce one pound of meat, even if the resulting meat is less healthy than the original grain?
  4. Don't food companies prefer stupid consumers who can be more easily convinced by less expensive and less substantive advertising? Aren't naive and trusting children the best possible targets for such advertising?
  5. If consumers vote with their wallets, won't the fat people win as regards food since they are the people who buy the most food? In other words, don't the economic votes of overweight people count more?
  6. Isn't it a paradox for food companies to argue that food commercials pay for children's TV when there is wide agreement that less TV would be better for the children?
  7. I have to ask, but what about her name? There is only one brief comment in the book that she isn't personally related to the giant food company of the same name, but I still wonder. It certainly isn't a common name and I don't think I've ever heard of anyone else named Nestle. I wonder if there was some interesting story there? Maybe she was kicked out of the family? Or maybe the coincidence inspired her to become a dietitian?
Overall, the book was extremely well prepared and meticulous. The only typo I noticed was on page 61, where it used "avalance" where it meant "avalanche". Perhaps that was a mistake in the original source that is being quoted, but in that case the error here is the lack of a "sic" notation.

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