While I was concentrating solely on the locked-out supermarket workers, there were some other things going on in the world - well sort of. In my head I berated the snail for daring to care about any other issue, and in our office every Green press release arrived to annoyed rants about its irrelevance. But there were a couple of things I stored up in my mind as being worth writing about.
One was the Health Select Committee's inquiry into obesity. In particular, several fast-food chains were in the news a couple of weeks ago. This is how it was reported in the The Dominion Post:
Representatives of the multinationals fronted up to Parliament's health select committee yesterday and insisted their products did not cause obesity.Because the only way to evaluate our food is whether or not it causes obesity. Unfortunately this is not just an isolated example, publicly the one quality we discuss about food most of the time is whether or not we make us fat. The only ideological difference is between the right who thinks this is an individual problem, and the left that blames it on the way food is produced (the Super Size Me analysis, as I think of it). I think those who have a left-wing analysis that perpetuate this discourse, are making a serious mistake. Curiousgyrl commented on Alas:
I agree with folks who question the panicked rhetoric declaring an obesity ‘epidemic,’ and who point out the fat hate that drives most of the discussion of this.I don't believe that these are two unrelated issues (although I absolutely don't believe that the number of calories that are produced is the main problem in our food supply). I don't think it's a coincidence that we have an moral panic over at obesity at a time when food is getting less nutritious.
But I also think that there is a real problem with an agricultural and food distribution system that provides far more calories per day than needed and in which corn subsidies make processed staples like high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated corn oil ubiquitous. Are there blogs/books etc that address both of these problems?
McDonald's response to the select committee was:
McDonald's had reduced the saturated and trans fat content of its food, changed its menu to include healthy options and provided nutritional information about its menu.See how easy it is for McDonalds to fight on these grounds. She's not talking about what's in the food: the vitamins, minerals, fibre, fats, carbohydrates, calories, that we need to live and that will make us strong. As soon as the discourse becomes about obesity, the makers of food don't have to justify what's in their food, and can instead claim that things aren't there. They don't have to look at what is in the banana, peanut butter sandwich and glass of milk, and compare that with what's in Chicken McNugget meal. It's the same with 'health foods', they're another way to commodify food, not a way for people to thrive. It's so much easier to take things out of food, to make them less food like, than to put things back into food, and make it more nutritious.*
A children's Chicken McNugget meal contained less fat, sodium, sugar and calories than a banana, glass of milk, and a peanut butter sandwich, she said.
Those of us who want food to be made for nutrition rather than profit can't turn the 'obesity' discourse to our side, because one of the points of the discourse is to point the finger in the wrong direction and to pretend that too many calories is the main problem, rather than scarcity of other nutrients.