Filed Under: Big Fat Lies

Food Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

“Sellers of food products do not attract the same kind of attention as purveyors of drugs or tobacco. They should.”
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.”
The “defense of freedom of choice or exclusion of ‘Big Brother’ government” from diet choice are “self-interested actions” by food producers.

The thoughts of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)? Maybe. They’re definitely the thoughts of Marion Nestle — these quotes come from her recent book Food Politics, a savage attack on consumer freedom. And, when an interviewer from Food Science News asked Nestle if CSPI is her “covert ally,” she replied: “Overt is more like it. I was on CSPI’s board for five years, then slipped off quietly, but I’m a big supporter of what they do. By and large, they’re the major game in town.” [For more on CSPI, visit]

Nestle isn’t the only anti-food fanatic with close CSPI ties. “Twinkie Tax” evangelist Kelly Brownell, who has said “children are to the obesity field what second-hand smoke was to tobacco” and that “there is no difference between Ronald McDonald and Joe Camel,” has been a CSPI mainstay for years.

Nestle says she favors “CSPI’s idea” for a “tax on soft drinks” — an idea promoted by Brownell and CSPI’s Michael Jacobson in a 2000 article. “A steep tax would probably reduce the consumption of the taxed foods,” they wrote, but “a small tax may be more politically feasible and would mostly go unnoticed by the public.”

Brownell has been more blunt on the subject: “Congress and state legislatures could shift the focus to the environment by taxing foods with little nutritional value. Fatty foods would be judged on their nutritive value per calorie or gram of fat. The least healthy would be given the highest tax rate… Consumption of high-fat food would drop.”

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