My issues with KO/PEP are more with their advertising, health disclosures (not), and the buying off of critics. The harm is born by less health-aware consumers who are disproportionately kids or from low income groups. When was the last time you saw an obese person in a Coke ad?
.@CocaCola and @PepsiCo have caused more harm to global health than likely any other company. Just look at the correlation between diabetes/obesity and soft drink consumption. It is remarkable that the plaintiffs bar has not yet won a massive judgment against them. twitter.com/calleymeans/st…
Michael Moss has popularized the well established science behind our corporate food culture, and how corporations have managed to hook us on unhealthy foods based on cheap, subsidized food inputs. Add to that the employment of an army of chemists who have crafted the perfect balance of taste stimulation with the ability to turn off satiation and you have a perfect explanation for why you find yourself at the bottom of a family sized bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.
It’s hard to ignore the multi billion dollar institutions that shape our culture and the rhythms of our everyday life, so I’m ever amazed by the “personal responsibility” trope when I hear it.
While your points are valid, they don’t allow the abdication of personal responsibility in the obesity crisis. No matter how delicious food scientists succeed in making our foods taste, at the end of the day, the decision of whether to eat them or not lies with the individual.
The individual can choose not to buy it. If that fails, they can choose to limit their intake. If that fails, they can choose to burn the excess calories through increased exercise. The key word in each of these is “choose”. Companies cannot compel people to consume their foods. Sure, they can encourage it in many different ways, but the power of choice still rests with the individual.
Besides, what would you propose as a solution if personal responsibility is thrown out the window? Punishing companies that make their foods too tasty? A “taste tax”? Sin taxes are a thing, sure, but such policies paint broadly with a horribly crude brush.
I’d much prefer that we as a society start holding people accountable for their actions. Young kids may need their parents to make decisions for them on what they can buy/eat, but I don’t believe full grown adults need incompetent politicians in D.C. doing it for them.
Not true! Look at the French, they regularly eat exquisitely delicious foods and have a much lower incidence of obesity. And they serve their delicious foods in reasonable portions (“small” to the typical American).
And why? Why would you prefer to focus on individuals rather than institutions when looking to understand the causes of, and solutions to, social problems like our extraordinarily high obesity rates? We’re the same people, making different choices. What’s changed?
I disagree that we’re the same people. Major cultural changes have taken place between generations. The increasingly popular trend in society today is to absolve the individual of responsibility for all their woes and inadequacies in life and explain them away with factors outside their control.
While there are most certainly factors beyond our control in our lives, this mentality and culture gives people an easy scapegoat to blame their problems on everyone/everything but themselves and their choices. When people are encouraged to believe they aren’t in control of their own destinies, it’s incredibly disempowering and leads to a reluctance to strive for making better choices and bettering themselves.
Add that to the effects of movements such as body positivity, which while noble in its original goal/intent, has transformed into a glorification and celebration of obesity (while ignoring the massively damaging toll it takes, not just in terms of years of lost life, but in terms of quality of life), and we have the perfect cultural storm that has led to expanding waistbands and worsening health year and after.
Regarding the role institutions have - in the pseudo-free market economy we have, the driving incentive for companies above all else is to give consumers what they desire and demand. It’s the choices consumers have made with their wallets that have led companies to enlarge portion sizes and offer high calorie foods. As a general rule, the best solutions to problems result from tackling the root causes of the problems (consumers making bad choices), not their symptoms.
Recognizing the role of institutions in shaping our culture and contributing to social problems like obesity is not absolving people of individual responsibility. Rather, it is recognizing that choice does not occur in a vacuum and that we need to address the social construction of choice if we are to address the problem. The fact that our corporate food culture produces cheap, unhealthy foods based on subsidized food inputs such as corn needs to be recognized when blaming individuals for their bad food choices. The fact that CVS and Walgreens have become the only sources of food in many food deserts has to be recognized when blaming poor people for being fat. Have you been to a CVS and seen the food choices? The fact that obesity rates are correlated with income cannot be ignored and suggests that something other than individual will is impacting personal choice around food (CDC Report). Individual choice must be contextualized if we’re serious about addressing the social problem of poor food choices.
I think you’re conflating two different issues here. The “body positivity” movement is really a reaction against the corporate advertising culture that glorified unrealistic and unhealthy bodies as normal, contributing to a major problem with personal self image across our culture. It celebrates the real diversity in body types that exist in human society and is not at all a celebration of obesity (which is a dangerous health condition).
On this we disagree. The driving incentive for companies above all else is to make a profit by selling the commodities they produce. Advertising exists to persuade and entice consumers to purchase the commodities corporations produce and hawk, even if they are not the best personal choices. Armies of hucksters are hired by corporations to influence the consumption practices of individuals, including influencing other institutions in how they engage with people. Here I’m thinking of how Perdue and the whole pharma industry used sales reps to influence and change the medical communities approach to pain management such that opioid prescription became normalized to the detriment of millions of health consumers.
When looking at food culture in particular, you cannot continue to ignore how corporations invent, produce, and market unhealthy foods not because the consumer demands them, but because they can be produced cheaply based on subsidized food inputs like corn. I didn’t know I wanted Doritos Cool Ranch until they were invented and then marketed to me. For many the choice between low cost manufactured (to be tasty) food and higher cost raw food is no choice at all. Add to that the time saving advantages to processed foods for time starved working families and you have a perfect storm of food choices produced by corporate food producers contributing to the social problem of obesity.
As a general rule, the best solutions to problems result from tackling the root causes of the problems (corporations offering bad choices), not their symptoms.
Their coffee has been absolutely terrible lately. The only one that is drinkable is their cold brew, the rest is brown sweet water, And we’ve tried 6 different local dunkins to check if it is a location based issue. It isn’t.
DW and I have stopped ordering coffee there as well. They never seem to make it the way that we like it - usually way too much cream and sugar. I also tried asking for it black with cream and sugar on the side, but then that’s a PITA. Instead, our local Dunkin’ sells 4 pounds of Regular grind for $19.95 and we brew it at home. Much more economical!! LBYM Baby!!
'38Packard => We have these awesome Contigo travel mugs that keep our home brew hot on the road
Yes! Way way way too sweet and creamy. I like cream in my coffee, but when I order, I click the cream option and lower it. Same for sweetener, I lower that as well. But it still arrives too watery, too sweet, and too creamy. I suspect they use the extra sweetness to mask the fact that they are diluting their coffee too much.
Starbucks is still okay, but is ridiculously expensive. I was out with my visiting daughter last week and I got her a latte (“Iced Starbucks Blonde Vanilla Latte”) and it was $6.47!!!