Perspective: Marion Nestle on Food Politics

By WorldLink Staff | September 19, 2011 | 1 Comment

What’s the relationship between food and politics? In this new Nourish Perspective, author Marion Nestle describes the politics of our food choices and inspires us to create a healthier future.

Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, and Professor of Sociology at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health and other titles. You can read more of her writings on her Food Politics blog.

For more about why our food choices matter, see Michael Pollan’s Vote with Your Fork and Michele Simon’s Food Marketing. Discover ways to get involved in Take a Stand.

Why have food choices become so confusing?

Marion Nestle: I’d say it’s because of the way food companies market their products. Basic dietary advice hasn’t changed much in the last 60 years. It still says to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, balance calories, and not eat too much junk food. Those are the basics. But everything else is about selling food products.

My vision of a healthy food culture is one in which marketing is restricted to describing the products, and there are no health claims (they are all misleading) and no marketing to kids (it’s unethical).

How does the food industry influence our food choices?

Marion Nestle: The food industry influences us through advertising and marketing (why would they do it if it didn’t work?), lobbying to make sure no government agency says to eat less of its products, co-opting nutritionists and health professionals so they won’t criticize the products, criticizing scientific findings to confuse the public, and blaming obesity on personal responsibility and not enough physical activity.


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  1. Muhammad12.01.15

    Well put. I feel similar about hiding vegetables in foods to make sure kids will eat them rather than encouraging them to actually try them and experimenting with creative ways to make the most of the natural goodness. Granted, I don't have kids, so I don't have any firsthand experience with picky eaters, and I'm also aware that for some families, canned veggies may be what's most cost-effective, but it's more about the sentiment. Whether you're working with fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables, there's still a lot of creative stuff you can do! We shouldn't have to pretend vegetables are anything but what they are!

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