18 May 2018

Glorious food, inglorious super-marketing bastards & the obesity crisis

Blaming supermarkets for obesity is a little chopping down a tree we are standing on, like tying our bootlaces together so we don't trip up on them.

"No wonder we have an obesity epidemic" the article announces as an introduction to "the nutritionist's eye-opening video post to Faceback".

Sure is eye-opening - if you have never been to a supermarket before.

Or eye-opening if you have been, but didn't notice the end-aisle displays because you were headed into the aisles which are filled to the brim with stuff that most nutritionist's would find to be equally awful.

No wonder we don't make any progress on obesity when we continue to run stories like this.

This kind of story about the evil of supermarkets is popular because it is an awesome cover story. It allows us to completely shift the responsibility to someone else.

Every parent has heard it: "He made me hit him."

Supermarkets, like siblings, are easy targets.

But supermarkets don't even make the products that people are so angry about. And if people are so damn angry, why are they still buying the stuff?

We're listening to the righteous leaders, while the masses (excuse the pun) are right behind waving their packet of chips and saying how they are right behind their nutritionist friends.

What about the good that supermarkets do?

Supermarkets have replaced the old family-run corner store groceries.

We've lost a way of life, rather like horses, carts and buggy whips. The wheel turns, and it does so because it generates something good.

Modern supermarkets give us access to an enormous range of food stuffs of excellent quality at a good price. Oh, and lots of choice!

And so many good things that supermarkets have done to support healhier life-styles. Supporting activities for local schools, introducing and supporting organic and other specialised food ranges, giving fruit away to the kids as they walk around the supermarket.

The reason why we don't talk about the good is simple. It ain't a story.

Are we serious about tackling obesity? If so, there is no "us" and "them." Sure supermarkets want to make a profit, and we want good food - meaning both good for you and just plain yummy even if not good for you - and we want it cheap.

We both individually and jointly contribute to the problem of obesity.

Time for us to make up our minds. Do we want to solve obesity?

Yes? Well then we need to make changes. And it's not about just one side or the other, but both sides together. Obesity is a community problem, one that consumers and marketers need to work on together.

Pointing fingers at the other side is like junk-food -- it has a really satisfying mouth-feel in the moment, but isn't doing us any good.

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