“This Diet Is Killing Us”
Posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017
There’s a great meme we saw on Facebook recently:
There is no junk food. Junk is considered useless or of little value. It is synonymous with rubbish. If it is junk, it isn’t food. Food nourishes and sustains us. It is essential to maintain life and growth.
Of course, that’s never stopped industry from trying to sell us on the wholesomeness of the crap they sell. They’ve done it for ages.
And if we don’t buy it here in the States? Well, there’s a whole world out there to be exploited. And so purveyors of hyper-processed junk continue to look abroad for opportunities to sell, sell, sell.
Of course, this also means exporting the chronic disease that goes hand in hand with the modern Western diet.
And this brings us to the main thing we wanted to share with you this week: a powerful essay in the New York Times on Nestlé’s incursions into Brazil. While some may say that the company is at least creating new economic opportunities for locals, it comes at quite a social and cultural cost.
Nestlé’s direct-sales army in Brazil is part of a broader transformation of the food system that is delivering Western-style processed food and sugary drinks to the most isolated pockets of Latin America, Africa and Asia. As their growth slows in the wealthiest countries, multinational food companies like Nestlé, PepsiCo and General Mills have been aggressively expanding their presence in developing nations, unleashing a marketing juggernaut that is upending traditional diets from Brazil to Ghana to India.
A New York Times examination of corporate records, epidemiological studies and government reports — as well as interviews with scores of nutritionists and health experts around the world — reveals a sea change in the way food is produced, distributed and advertised across much of the globe. The shift, many public health experts say, is contributing to a new epidemic of diabetes and heart disease, chronic illnesses that are fed by soaring rates of obesity in places that struggled with hunger and malnutrition just a generation ago.
The new reality is captured by a single, stark fact: Across the world, more people are now obese than underweight. At the same time, scientists say, the growing availability of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods is generating a new type of malnutrition, one in which a growing number of people are both overweight and undernourished.
“The prevailing story is that this is the best of all possible worlds — cheap food, widely available. If you don’t think about it too hard, it makes sense,” said Anthony Winson, who studies the political economics of nutrition at the University of Guelph in Ontario. A closer look, however, reveals a much different story, he said. “To put it in stark terms: The diet is killing us.”