Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Grist's Tom Philpott writes on the state of food politics in the news:
Obesity, it seems, is the popular frame for looking critically of the food system: it’s the respectable pathway through which public figures can criticize industrial food. I wish there were another one. While the expansion of the American waistline is a material fact, emphasizing it, obsessing over it, repeating it endlessly, I fear, reinforces our national obsession with skinniness, unintentionally stigmatizes the very people who have been failed by the food system, and opens space for the food industry to respond with new products speciously marketed as weight-loss panaceas. As a nation, we have a tortured and schizophrenic relationship with food and body weight; a bevy of public figures fixating on fatness underscores that unhappy fixation.
I watched much of the Katie Couric / David Kessler / Eric Schlosser interview thing that he features there and it's pretty good.

I am starting to get driven crazy, though, by the word "processed." I think it's probably not an effective word for the food movement folks to be using. I really doubt very many people know what it means. We need a word that is more specific, more understandable, and probably slightly more evil sounding, because "processed" just doesn't sound bad at all.


At 3:17 PM, Blogger casual entropy said...

Not sure that I agree that there's not another one. Diabetes? Heart disease?

There are problems with how obesity is measured - BMI being a really wack metric - and while I understand that clearly obesity and skinniness are linked, I'm not confident in Philpott's analysis that they're that closely connected. You can have a conversation about the health ramifications of an obese population without the implication that everybody has to be a certain kind of skinny.

Agreed on "processed," however.


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