Ignorance or Misplaced Trust? The Marketing of “Food” in Our Culture
“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” -Harlan Ellison
It is difficult to navigate the world of nutrition. It is an ever evolving and ever-changing field. This creates amazing opportunities for marketing in “nutrition”. We are a nation of consumers. We, the consumers, trust in what we are told, seldom paying attention to who the teller is and what their motives are. But should we?
Recently one of my readers referred to herself as being “ignorant” in the past when she fed her children packaged foods for lunch everyday. She said now that she knows she will try to do better. I thought she was harsh on herself. Was she ignorant, or was she trusting what she was taught from early on about food?
I started thinking about the word ignorant. What makes someone ignorant? Ignorance is being unaware or uninformed about a specific topic. However, I also view the term ignorance as choosing not to inform oneself. You make a conscious decision not to learn-you intentionally turn the blind cheek to different or new information. Often times the individual who is acting ignorant takes the extra step to bash the new or different information, or write it off immediately…sometimes even make a joke about it. The person is making sure he remains where he feels safe (in his comfort zone) even though that place in his mind might not be ideal. He might not feel good about his nutritional decisions, but he feels safe. Some examples of ignorant remarks you may experience regarding eating real food “eating paleo is just a fad” “people who eat primal cut out a major food group” “I could never give up bread” etc…We live in a processed food culture, therefore we (those of us who try to avoid processed foods) are the fish out of water!
What are the reasons people choose to ignore to new information? I think the biggest things it comes down to are fear, misplaced trust in advertising, and healthcare providers who know very little about real nutrition. There are of course many other factors that I won’t delve too much into in this piece…such as the lack of realization that the foods we consume do indeed have a tremendous impact on our health.
There is a fear is that we will be seen or viewed as wrong, and have to experience the discomfort of guilt if we are wrong. It is far easier to remain stagnant, and not have to face the chance that something we are doing may be wrong. There is also fear that we will have to make major lifestyle changes and that involves experiencing the discomfort of something new and different. We are very set in our ways.
Then there is the misplaced trust. We learn from a young age to believe and trust in what we are told. We see all these television commercials touting the benefits of the products they are trying to SELL. We view the media as an authority. We view mainstream Doctors as an authority, and we view the government as an authority. Somewhere along the line we stopped searching for our own answers. We stopped trusting our bodies and ourselves. We started putting our trust in all the wrong places. We fell and continue to fall for it…however false the health claims are. Besides, now we have someone to blame if we are wrong…
“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.”–Wayne Dyer
It’s easy to just trust someone else, and not have to worry about educating ourselves and making these difficult decisions. We always look for the easiest way…the easiest answers. So we go ahead and trust someone else. We are letting companies make our personal decisions for us. The goal of marketing is to win the consumer’s trust, and get them to purchase their products. Marketers look at every angle-the age of the consumer, the sex of the consumer, colors-and demographics. Their only goal is to get you to purchase their product. There are no laws to stop them from making outlandish health claims, so they do.
My favorite facebook page “Just Eat Real Food”recently posted about this. She posted 2 twix wrappers and one had the color green on it. The wrapper with the green on it made it look like a healthier product. I even fell for it. I saw the green “100 calorie” and thought for a moment “this is the one people will view as healthier.” Both products were the same-the wrappers were different.
So how do I, as a consumer navigate?
Trust in yourself as someone who is capable of taking care of your own body, and making your own decisions. Trust yourself enough to make these same decisions for your children, who are not yet capable of understanding what real food is. Listen to your gut-not a television commercial or package that says “healthy” on it.
Never buy a product that you hear or see a commercial for. Do you see commercials for real food? Have you ever seen an ad campaign for grass-fed beef, greens or sweet potatoes? Probably not. Those are the foods you should be buying. Don’t fall for deceptive health claims”100 calories” (I would be extremely hungry if I only ate 100 calories of a grain filled processed snack) “100% natural” “all natural” etc. Eat real food. Is it something your great Grandmother would recognize as food? If not, it probably isn’t.
Determine the motives of the source of information. “Health” magazines want your money-and they will tell you what you want to hear. However, there are no quick and easy fixes. Dieting is not healthy. Eating real food is a lifelong lifestyle commitment. Processed food companies want your money. They know that Americans are sicker than ever. They know we are on this “health” craze. They are jumping all over that. Don’t fall for it. The medical and pharmaceutical industries need people to be sick.
Educate yourself-do the research-you aren’t being ignorant if you’ve made an educated decision for yourself. You will probably come to the realization that-“yes, I should be eating real food.”
Once you become aware of the profound affect processed foods have on your physical and mental body-the seed of truth is planted-you will start to make changes. It may take time to work through the changes slowly, but you can and will make those changes.
Remember that it’s never too late-you can never be “too set in your ways” or “too old.” That is a cop-out.
Keep an open mind to new and different information. It might sound crazy at first. However, just because something is different, that does not make it wrong. It might be the best thing you ever did for yourself!
* Please note: This is a personal blog. I am not a Doctor or a Dietician. All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.