Is the food industry making us sick?

  • Sadly, I’m not invited to The Times’ party – was it something I said?
  •  Finally the media is waking up to this truth about why the nation is becoming so ill
  •  Why we’re not the desperate consumerists that we’re told we are

Suddenly, the media has woken up.

After years of staying schtum on the subject, The Times has launched an investigation into why we Britons are so desperately poorly and overweight.

And – shock horror – they’re finally asking…

Could it be the FOOD INDUSTRY that is making us sick?

Maybe it’s not that you and I are weak-minded babies who cannot control our insatiable appetites for crisps, biscuits, cheese, chocolate, cake and pasta.

But perhaps the system in which we live makes it extremely difficult to stay healthy.

Not only that, but food corporations – and the media companies that promote their products – are getting very rich by keeping it that way.

I first noticed a shift in the media on the 16th January after The Times reported that soaring ill health was costing our economy £150 BILLION a year.

This cost has increased by about 60% in the last six years.

That’s a damning statistic and yet more proof that things are going horribly awry with public health in this country.

Interestingly, all the related articles I’ve seen in The Times since this piece have had a ‘Times Health Commission’ header.

This appears to be something they’ve introduced to show how seriously they have started taking the state of the nation’s health.

Now they’re finally talking about sugar, trans-fats and hidden salts in processed foods, and how it’s making the public really sick.

Given that I’ve been banging on about this very subject for years in these email letters, I am slightly annoyed that I wasn’t asked to join this party!

Was it something I said?

Or maybe it would mean the mainstream press having to admit lagging years behind alternative news sources like The Good Life Letter.

Anyway, the stories came thick and fast last month.

On 18th January, The Times published a piece about how bringing cake into the office should be viewed like passive smoking.

Professor Susan Jebb, chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency, said, “We all like to think we’re rational, intelligent, educated people who make informed choices the whole time, and we undervalue the impact of the environment. If nobody brought cakes into the office, I would not eat cakes in the day, but because people do bring cakes in, I eat them.”

She pointed out that while eating the cake brought to the office was a personal choice, people were also making a choice to go into a smoky pub, and they still put a stop to that.

So what’s the difference?

She said: “With smoking, after a very long time we have got to a place where we understand that individuals have to make some effort but that we can make their efforts more successful by having a supportive environment.”

This is precisely what I’ve been saying for years about the way food is produced, packaged and promoted.

We are made to feel guilty for putting on weight or reaching for the ready-meals and treats…

But few in the media question the actions of the corporations that bombard us constantly with advertising, and make poor food cheap, easy to access, and on every street corner.

Few in the media question an education system that doesn’t teach children about nutrition, or how to grow and cook food.

Few point to the disappearance of traditional recipes, cooking methods and natural medicines that used to be handed down from generation to generation.

Instead, it’s almost always the fault of the weak individual.

Here’s a case in point…

One man’s battle with biscuits

On the 22nd Jan, The Times ran an opinion piece by Matthew Syed with the headline, “My battle with the biscuits shows willpower alone just isn’t enough.”

In a break from the usual narrative, he explained how it’s not always possible to simply NOT eat unhealthy food.

There are powerful emotional and physical processes at work that drive us to reach for treats. And when they’re constantly available, they’re very hard to resist.

He noticed that when his family didn’t have biscuits, chocolate or crisps in the house at all, they soon forgot about them, they started to eat better and lose weight.

But Syed blames himself for buying the bad stuff from the shops, rather than a whole industry that makes trying to avoid it almost impossible.

Journalists KNOW much money can be saved by the NHS if obesity was dealt with. Yet they are still desperate to point the finger of blame on individuals.

Now it’s being recommended that WE pay to solve the obesity problem rather than the wealthy corporations who are the cause of it.

For example, one of the Times’ ‘Health Commission’ pieces suggested that there should be an increase on Inheritance Tax to pay for soaring health costs.

So the emphasis is on us to shoulder the financial burden.

And NOT on the corporate world to act responsibly and sacrifice some of their profits for the sake of public health.

I see the same thing with global warming and pollution.

Individuals are being made to feel responsible for plundering the word’s resources because of our selfish greed… when it’s not us who are the greedy ones.

Why we’re not the desperate consumerists that we’re told we are

Eco-philosopher and green activist Rupert Read believes that we are not really a ‘consumerist’ society at all, as we are often led to believe.

He writes: “The term ‘consumer’ summons up images of endlessly-open mouths, waiting to be filled with more and more stuff.”

But he doesn’t believe that we are naturally that way.

“The concept of ‘consumerism’ is extremely useful for those who want to sell us things,” he says. “Because it then seems as though they are only doing our bidding. We are the agents: they are merely satisfying our wants and needs.”

He suggests instead that we are actually a “production-ist” society.

We are being constantly bombarded with products that we don’t need to keep the profits flowing. Corporations, advertisers and media have it in their best interests to maintain this constant desire for more, more, more.

Then we are told that we have to pay to clean up the mess that results, while shareholders and company directors walk away with piles of money.

This applies to the food industry in spades!

People are not angrily demanding unhealthy products to satisfy their greedy cravings. If it didn’t exist on their local shop shelves they wouldn’t eat it, and probably wouldn’t miss it.

Instead, the food industry is constantly producing addictive, convenient products because of their own greed.

And it’s regular people who suffer ill health because of it.

The situation is spiralling out of control.

I cannot imagine what will happen if there’s another 60% rise in the cost of dealing with ill-health in the next six years.

It could break the country at a time when we are already on our knees.

So this is something that could affect us all, no matter how healthy we keep ourselves.