Big Food defector spills beans on corporate food biz
Ex-Big Food exec Bruce Bradley writes about the dubious practices of the corporate food industry in his excellent blog
Go, Bruce Bradley!
If you don’t know about Bruce Bradley, you should. Grist.org writer Andy Bellatti interviewed the former Big Food (General Mills, Nabisco, Pillsbury, etc.) marketing exec recently.
In response to Bellatti’s question about the “most insidious” trends in the food industry over the past 20 years, Bradley stated that “huge, multinational food companies now dominate the [food] landscape.” Their influential lobbying power and deep pockets, he said, “have been very successful in stagnating food regulation.” Also, their drive to constantly make a profit has had a “devastating impact on both food quality and food safety. Think factory farming and GMOs.”
Bradley added that consumers’ health has been put at risk as a result of the questionable quality of Big Food products, in tandem with “dubious health claims” and the co-opting of fad diets to help market these goods. “The net impact of this transformed landscape has been disastrous from a public health perspective,” said Bradley, “with obesity rates skyrocketing and a never-ending flood of food recalls.”
Bradley went on to say that “one of the main ways the processed-food industry is trying to grow and defend its business is by funding self-serving research” that is “carefully constructed to create sound bites and statistics to help market their products or combat potential regulation.”
Bradley’s blog (www.brucebradley.com) is even better. For instance, did you know that castoreum—a “bitter, very smelly, orange-brown substance” secreted from the anal glands of beavers—is commonly used to make vanilla or raspberry flavoring for processed food and drinks, and is legally listed on labels as “natural flavoring”? Human hair and duck feathers are “natural” ingredients (called cysteine) in dough conditioner? Check it out …
“It’s that time of year again,” Pyramid Farms’ Matthew Martin reminded me recently. Yes, indeed—for the fourth year in a row, Martin will be donating his entire day’s take from his downtown Chico Certified Farmers’ Market veggie sales on the Saturday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 19) to global nonprofit organization Heifer International. Heifer’s worldwide reach helps to reduce poverty and hunger and promote self-sufficiency by providing livestock, trees, seeds and training funded by the generosity of donors.
“The most common and effective mode of news repression is omission. By saying next to nothing about dissenting events, movements, candidates or incidents, the media consign them to oblivion.”
The above quotation comes from political thinker extraordinaire Michael Parenti’s brand-new, must-read article, “Occupy America,” which Parenti emailed to me recently and which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/rightonmp. (It’s too lengthy to reproduce here, or I would.)
Another insightful quote from Parenti’s piece: “The mainstream news outlets not only control opinions but even more so opinion visibility, which in turn allows them to limit the parameters of public discourse. This makes it all the more imperative for ordinary people to join together in demonstrations, hoping thereby to maximize the visibility and impact of their opinions.”
The Northern California Regional Land Trust’s next Beginning Farmer and Rancher workshop on identifying new markets will be held on Nov. 15, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., at 831 Fifth St. in Orland. For more info, go to www.landconservation.org.