Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that there is a growing obesity epidemic in this country, including in children. We know that poor food choices are part of the problem.
It doesn’t really make sense though – people have access to more information about nutrition and diet than in any other time in history. With just a couple clicks of the mouse and throwing key words into a search engine we have a plethora of information about a healthy lifestyle. Yet we cannot seem to figure out how to lose weight, get active, and stay fit.
Turns out there might be more to the story.
A report, which you can read in its entirety here, suggests that the problem might be the message Americans are receiving. According to a report by the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), when activist groups try to convince people that conventionally raised produced is bad for them, they may actually be making the obesity problem worse.The negative message being pushed by the organic industry, the anti-GMO activists, and the animal rights radicals may actually be part of the problem.
Now, obviously this isn’t the only reason that Americans are fat.
We eat too many calories. We don’t burn enough calories. We sit all day long. We eat too much sugar. We don’t eat enough vegetables. We don’t drink enough water. (You get the point.)
AFF put together a series of questions to a group of 800 randomly selected people and asked them questions related to food safety concerns, marketing messages, and shopping habits. After reviewing the data, the AFF panel reached these conclusions:
- This report clearly shows an emerging public health threat, and that although it may be unintentional, the impact of negative messages on food safety issues is not promoting the consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables.
- We have an obesity epidemic and current media and internet reporting is increasing fears consumers have about eating fruits and vegetable and is lowering the faith people have in the government regulations implemented to protect them.
- It is inaccurate to suggest that organic is the only safe choice when it comes to selecting safe fruits and vegetables; because there is no scientific consensus to substantiate this claim.
- Regrettably some well-intentioned media and internet reports on food safety may create a situation where some consumers feel like they are making inferior choices when they buy conventionally grown fruits and vegetables rather than organic.
- The key message we need to continue to deliver is — eat more fruits and vegetables.
(Source: AFF) By the way, I would like to point out that AFF is a coalition of both conventional farmers and organic farmers. Organic farmers do not have to sit back and be complicit in the negative marketing campaigns. They can also take an active stand against it (even if it does hurt the bottom line).
Unfortunately, consumers are getting the fear-mongering messages and they are responding by not buying the fruits and vegetables altogether. The negative food messages isn’t just deceptive and wrong, it’s also literally scaring people into not purchasing the healthy food they should be eating. Of course, low income families are the most susceptible to this, because they don’t have the extra income to spend on organic brands. So the mentality is: If I can’t buy the best, what’s the point? Rather they go back to eating the less healthy, more processed foods.
Instead of promoting your organic/vegan/anti-GMO produce by attacking ours, how about you just promote your produce?
All of us can share in this message! If the media isn’t sure how to cooperate in such a message here are a few suggestions: cancel Dr. Oz‘s show, don’t let Food Babe be a guest, stop considering the EWG as legitimate, and make sure studies you report on are scientific. We can contribute by not hitting “share” on those negative stories going around on social media. Those suggestions alone would go a long way in promoting healthy choices instead of scaring people.
The United States has an amazing track record for safe food. Our agricultural systems allow us to enjoy lots of fresh produce without fear. Not to mention our farmers take pride in what they grow and feed it to their own children. I hope people that have been faced with this issue will be exposed to the truth somewhere (my blog or somewhere else) and know that they can eat healthy – and safely – without breaking the bank.