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California Studies in Food and Culture #03: Food Politicsby Marion Nestle
2003 James Beard Award Winner: Literary
Synopses & Reviews
We all witness, in advertising and on supermarket shelves, the fierce competition for our food dollars. In this engrossing exposand#233;, Marion Nestle goes behind the scenes to reveal how the competition really works and how it affects our health. The abundance of food in the United States--enough calories to meet the needs of every man, woman, and child twice over--has a downside. Our overefficient food industry must do everything possible to persuade people to eat more--more food, more often, and in larger portions--no matter what it does to waistlines or well-being.
Like manufacturing cigarettes or building weapons, making food is very big business. Food companies in 2000 generated nearly $900 billion in sales. They have stakeholders to please, shareholders to satisfy, and government regulations to deal with. It is nevertheless shocking to learn precisely how food companies lobby officials, co-opt experts, and expand sales by marketing to children, members of minority groups, and people in developing countries. We learn that the food industry plays politics as well as or better than other industries, not least because so much of its activity takes place outside the public view.
Editor of the 1988 Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health, Nestle is uniquely qualified to lead us through the maze of food industry interests and influences. She vividly illustrates food politics in action: watered-down government dietary advice, schools pushing soft drinks, diet supplements promoted as if they were First Amendment rights. When it comes to the mass production and consumption of food, strategic decisions are driven by economics--not science, not common sense, and certainly not health.
No wonder most of us are thoroughly confused about what to eat to stay healthy. An accessible and balanced account, Food Politics will forever change the way we respond to food industry marketing practices. By explaining how much the food industry influences government nutrition policies and how cleverly it links its interests to those of nutrition experts, this pathbreaking book helps us understand more clearly than ever before what we eat and why.
In the advertising of food and on supermarket shelves there is fierce competition for our money. The food industry is constantly trying to persuade people to eat more. In this expose, Marion Nestle uncovers how the competition in this industry works and how it affects our health.
"In this fascinating book we learn how powerful, intrusive, influential, and invasive big industry is and how alert we must constantly be to prevent it from influencing not only our own personal nutritional choices, but those of our government agencies. Marion Nestle has presented us with a courageous and masterful exposand#233;."and#151;Julia Child
"This remarkable book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand how it has come to be that the richest nation in the world is eating itself to deathand#133;. Straight reporting about the shaping of food policy, as this volume makes clear, is certain to offend some very powerful players."and#151;Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life
"Food politics underlie all politics in the United States. There is no industry more important to Americans, more fundamentally linked to our well-being and the future well-being of our children. Nestle reveals how corporate control of the nation's food system limits our choices and threatens our health. If you eat, you should read this book."and#151;Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation
"'Blockbuster' is one of the best ways that I could describe this bookand#133;. A major contribution to understanding the interaction of politics and science, especially the science of nutrition, it is of extreme value to virtually all policy makers and to everyone concerned with the American diet."and#151;Sheldon Margen, editor of the Berkeley Wellness Letter
"A devastating analysis of how the naked self-interest of America's largest industry influences and compromises nutrition policy and government regulation of food safety. . . . A clear translation of often obscure studies and cases, the writing is accessible and lively."and#151;Warren Belasco, author of Appetite for Change
How does the food industry influence what we eat and, therefore, our health? What are the food industry's marketing methods and what is its relationship to the political system? What can be said about its use of political power to achieve profit goals? A bold, unprecedented behind-the-scenes expose of one of America's biggest and most powerful industries.
About the Author
Marion Nestle is Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. Author of Nutrition in Clinical Practice (1985), she has served as a nutrition policy advisor to the Department of Health and Human Services and as a member of nutrition and science advisory committees to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. She is the author of Safe Food: Bacteria, Biotechnology, and Bioterrorism (California, 2003).
Table of Contents
Undermining dietary advice — Working the system — Exploiting kids, corrupting schools — Deregulating dietary supplements — Inventing techno-foods.
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