Food Is Big Business!

Americans spend $1 trillion on food each year. Food is a huge business. Many food manufacturers have been compelled by the rising health concerns resulting from obesity to focus on marketing terms like low-fat or whole grain to promote products. For the food business, confusion and mixed messages are good for their business. Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules stated:

As a writer, I can appreciate the value of confusion. We are in the explanation business. If we were to answer questions too simply, we would lose our jobs. After spending years researching nutrition in my last book In Defense of Food, I was deeply unnerved when I realized the answer to this supposedly complex question of what food we should consume could be boiled down into just seven words.

Food is important. Don’t overdo it. Mostly plants.


Eat Real Food

This one is easy to understand. Basically, God’s creation will never be improved by man.

“Consume food and beverages rich in nutrients from all the basic groups of foods, while choosing foods which limit the intakes of saturated and Trans-fats, cholesterol added sugars salt and alcohol.”

The problem with common sense is that it has to compete with the powerful trillion dollar food industries that bombard us with messages designed for us to eat more of the worst foods. Food has a generally inverse relationship with profit. The more you process food, the higher its profitability. The more food is processed, the less nutritional value remains. It is for this reason that we see things such as enriched bread. They try and put some of those nutrients back in, which they have removed. What we have in the end is a far cry of what God gave us. The packaged food and processed foods companies will do anything to increase their product sales on their target markets. More than 90 percent their product sales go to less that 10 percent of customers. “In the processed food industry, that coveted ten percent consists of people who are over 200 pounds in weight and make less than $35,000 a year.

In his book The New Wellness Revolution, economist Paul Zane Pilzer observes:

No expense is spared for hitting every psychological button which matters to the market… The target has no chance, like a deer caught up in the scope of the hunter at close distance.

Sometimes the ruthlessness is enough to make the marketing executives, who earn $200,000 annually, feel uncomfortable. Some refuse to even attend their own focus group. They prefer not to confront their future targets in person and instead review transcripts at their offices.

One great scandal of the junk-food industry is that the most enthusiastic promoters themselves avoid eating the products they are promoting.

Pilzer continues by pointing out:

These food companies do even worse than target overweight, unhealthy, lower-income consumers for their products. Once the customer has purchased the product, the company’s chemists are sure to make sure that the consumer will never be satisfied by eating just a small amount.

[They] were altered to ensure “nobody can just eat one” of the products. This chemical modification causes excessive consumption, promotes obesity, and destroys our natural desire to try new foods.

Maybe you’re starting to feel some righteous indignation at this point. We have let ourselves be led astray by the devil like pigs on their way to slaughter. I am reminded yet again of Jesus’ words: “The thief will only come to steal, to kill and to destroy.” “I came that they may live and have abundant life” (John 10, 10 ESV). These things should not be a surprise to us. It is up to us to educate and inform ourselves so we know the difference between good and bad. That brings me back here. The best way to ensure that you are getting the nutrition you need is to eat unprocessed food. The realfood, not edible substances. Real food definition:

Leafy Greens
Lean Proteins
Whole Grains
Healthy Fats
Legumes (beans, peas, etc)

If you focus on eating real food for the majority of what you eat, your nutrition will be better and you’ll feel more satisfied. Shop the outer edges of the grocery store and avoid the middle.

Shop in the outermost aisles of the supermarket. Avoid the middle

You may have noticed that the layout of most supermarkets is the same. For the most part fresh foods-meat, fish and dairy-are located on the outer edges, while processed goods dominate the aisles in the middle. Many stores also have the organic and natural food sections in the periphery. If you stay on the outer edge of a store, you’re much more likely than not to end up with real foods in your shopping basket. This strategy isn’t foolproof because HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), artificial sweeteners, and other non-foods have crept into the dairy case. They are hidden in flavored puddings, yogurts and some forms cheese. Also, you can find healthy foods, like brown rice and dried beans. You can also find whole-grain pastas, oatmeal, old-fashioned cereal, and whole-grain noodles. You can usually find them in the inner aisles. The less time spent in the center aisles, the better. Think of the field as a diamond. If you’re running the bases, it’s important to stay as near to the baseline as you can. You’ll be back on the benches if you wander too far into the field.

Pay More, Eat Less

We have all heard that age-old saying: “You get what you paid for.” Food is no different. Quality is more valuable than quantity. Pollan stated, “There can be no escaping the truth that better food – measured by taste, nutritional quality, or both (which often coincide) – costs more, as it has been produced with less intensity and care. Not everyone in America has the means to eat well, which is a real shame. However, most of us do.

As with all things, there are also cost trade-offs. As food costs declined, so did the quality. We ended up having to consume more food while spending the same money. You may also end up paying more for health care. We complain that organic range-free eggs cost $3 a dozen, but don’t blink if we have a $0.75 can of coke in front of us. You will likely eat less food if you spend more on better quality. It will also taste better and make you feel more satisfied. Choose nutrition over quantity. Or as our grandmothers used to say “Better paying the grocer rather than the physician.”

Eat When You Are Hungry, Not When You Are Bored

Most of us eat for reasons other than hunger. We eat because we are bored, to entertain ourselves, or as a reward or comfort. Make an effort to understand whyyou consume food and only eat it when you’re truly hungry. An old wives’ saying says that if you aren’t hungry enough to eat one apple, then you’re definitely not hungry. Eating out boredom or comfort is an expensive antidepressant.

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