Filed Under: Snacks

Nestle’s Punch

This morning’s New York Times features a “conversation” with Marion Nestle, one of the top finger-waggers of the anti-food movement. Though she blasts food and beverage advertising during the chat, the piece is meant to pitch Nestle’s new book, Food Politics. [For more on Nestle, click here.]

The Times offers a kinder, gentler Nestle. She says “nobody can say that [snack and restaurant] foods in reasonable quantities are bad.” This follows a remark made on CBS in January: ” I think people should use their common sense. Any food is reasonable; just don’t eat too much of it.”

But open up Food Politics and it’s a whole different Marion. She writes:
“It is in the interest of food companies to have people believe that there is… no such thing as a ‘bad’ food (especially not theirs); that all foods (especially theirs) can be incorporated into healthful diets; [and] that no advice to restrict intake of their particular product is appropriate.”
The “defense of freedom of choice or exclusion of ‘Big Brother’ government” from diet choice are “self-interested actions” by food producers.
Only “food companies and their trade associations” believe that “all foods can be part of healthful diets” and that “there is no such thing as a good or a bad food.”
“Sellers of food products do not attract the same kind of attention as purveyors of drugs or tobacco. They should.”

In Food Politics, Nestle writes: “Unless we are willing to pay more for food… and rarely buy anything that comes in a package or is advertised on television, we support the current food system every time we eat a meal.” She tells the Times: “I’d like to see the government take a much more serious approach to obesity prevention.” [For more on the stepped-up War on Fat, click here.] Comments like that put Nestle squarely in line with what Dennis Avery, director of global food issues for the Hudson Institute, calls the “Food Taliban“:

“The Taliban sought to impose a radical vision… on the people of Afghanistan; by the same tactics, Americans may find themselves tangled in a web of activists and lawyers seeking to impose their radical vision of behavior control… John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School, recently speculated that lawsuits could be filed against companies whose products are considered responsible for obesity, just as lawsuits were filed against tobacco companies.

“Other efforts by the self-appointed food police that are now drawing some support include a call for special taxes on certain foods and beverages and banning the sale of soft drinks and snacks in schools… There will always be lawyers trying to create wealth and power by lawsuit; and Taliban activists, of varying stripes, claiming all sorts of things that we eat, drink, wear, use or do are hazardous to our health… The list is so long that anyone who actually believed every claim could die of hunger and thirst, afraid to leave an empty room.”

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