A view from inside Big Food's bunker
This story from FoodNavigator-USA is an interesting study in selective perception, if also being a crock.
The question of its headline is, “Is the food industry under attack from an NGO/media complex?” To which I will quickly answer, “yes, but no.”
Do NGOs and journalists ask reasonable questions about our food supply, about food processing, and about food marketing? The question begs a judgement, and I say yes. But are they attacking the food industry? One can say yes only if one presupposes that Big Food is already taking all the right, helpful, healthy actions, thereby making any questions offensive, i.e. “attacks.”
Clearly, that’s how the subject of the story, Jon Entine, an author and a senior research fellow at George Mason University, sees it that way. He complains that NGOs and in many cases, “NGOs and the media lead rather than follow the consumer.” And there’s the crock, or at least part of it. It takes impressive twists of perspective to suggest that advocates shouldn’t advocate, and that reporters should simply ask consumers what they’re curious about and report only on what they hear.
By that “logic,” we never would have heard about Watergate, or cancers caused by pollution, or soldiers returning from Iraq who weren’t getting decent medical care. A free society needs people other than the ruling powers to assess conditions, ask questions, and advocate for change when necessary.
And yes, in this case, Big Food is the ruling power, by virtue of its stranglehold over all facets of the food industry, and its relentless, multibillion-dollar promotions machine which conditions what consumers think, anyway.
Some people Inside the bunker, apparently, think they’re under attack. Out here in the rest of the world, that’s how I feel — under relentless bombardment from Big Food — and I’m glad to have advocates and journalists pointing out where Big Food is serving its own interests, instead of the broad public interest.