Filed Under: Food Police

Lions And Bulls And Bears, Oh My

The demands of Wall Street’s shareholders may cause more to grow than just the corporate bottom line. The financial district is also pushing your bathroom scale into the red, if you believe Marion Nestle who gave a talk Tuesday at the University of Kentucky. She claims that food companies’ emphasis on profits and pressure to sell leads to a society filled with an abundance of tasty, affordable food and, therefore, fat people.But that same eagerness to grow gives companies an eagerness to offer consumers what they want. And — as Nestle admits in her speech — a “backlash against unhealthy eating trends” has prompted many Americans to demand healthier foods.Accordingly, the industry has responded with products to meet that need: functional foods. These new yogurts, drinks, condiments, and more grant consumers nutritional and medicinal benefits, like reducing cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, and warding off cancer. Since Nestle supports the emergence of healthy options in supermarkets, one would expect her response to these products to be full of praise.Instead, she criticizes companies for promoting functional foods and pooh-poohs their health benefits, alleging that “a single-nutrient approach to health is too simplistic” in today’s BusinessWeek.But this paradoxical response should not come as a surprise to anyone. Her past predilection for nay-saying inspired the nickname “Marion the Contrarian,” and today’s statement holds true to form. She recently told U.S. News & World Report that weight loss depends on “eating less and more healthfully and being more active,” but has announced on national news that she only supports exercise and moderation “in theory.” In her book Food Politics she writes that “there is no such thing as a good or a bad food,” but then fingers “cheap food” as the source of obesity in Tuesday’s speech.Then again, this is the same lady who thinks that “cows don’t drink milk.”

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