If there is anything that makes me sad, it’s visiting my children at school and noting the large number of students who have lunchboxes filled with items that qualify more as chemistry experiments than as food.
The hugely popular Lunchables are perhaps the best known example of the modern lab lunch – an industrialized food system gone horribly awry and a populace that has completely lost touch with how to nourish its children.
Highly processed, enticingly packaged creations targeted to young children, nutrient poor Lunchables are offered in numerous combinations to suit any young, impressionable palate. The Lunchables brand boasts 26 different varieties of meal combos: crackers, pizzas, small hot dogs, small burgers, nachos, subs, and pseudo healthy wraps.
Lunchables also can include an assortment of drinks and desserts. The drink is commonly a GMO high fructose corn syrup laden Capri Sun or Tropical Punch flavored Kool-Aid mix with bottled water. Desserts would be jello or pudding or a candy alternative, like Reese’s cups or Butterfingers.
I’ve often wondered how corporate executives who come up with these products live with themselves.
Now, thanks to author Michael Moss, author of Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, now we know: they are in complete denial. These individuals truly believe they are doing the public a favor by providing cheap, convenience choices “fortified” with synthetic vitamins.
Lunchables Inventor’s Children Don’t Eat What Daddy Created
Bob Drane, Lunchables inventor, whose own upper middle class children don’t eat what Daddy created for “other” children, had this to say:
“I wish that the nutritional profile of the thing could have been better, but I don’t view the entire project as anything but a positive contribution to people’s lives.”
Drane’s own daughter confessed: “We eat healthy.”
Industry executives disgusted with this elitist, hypocritical approach to business are unfortunately, not as common as those with their heads in the sand.
The lone example provided by Moss in his book is Jeffrey Dunn, a rapidly rising executive for Coca-Cola who rose almost to the top of the ladder. While working for Coke, he said he achieved peace of mind by simply not allowing himself to think about what he actually sold.
He changed his mind abruptly on a business trip to Brazil in 2001. Dunn’s marching orders from Coca-Cola were simple: find the best way to push Coke on poor Brazilian kids living in the ghettos.
After that eye opening trip, Dunn tried for 4 years to change Coke from the inside. Unsuccessful, he left the company, unable to stand the relentless marketing to the poor and Coke addicted a moment longer.
As consumers, we really should not be surprised by the behavior of the majority of Big Food executives.
After all, the job of marketing is to sell “lots of stuff and make lots of money” according to Sergio Zyman, marketing head of Coca-Cola during the 1990’s.
It is up to us as parents to choose not to pack lab lunches for our children and to say no with our food dollars. A growing number of consumers buying their food consciously will, over time, force companies to consider the moral consequences of their products – else they won’t win our business.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Our Broken Food System, Sally Fallon Morell
Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss
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