Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but like just about everything else is capitalist America, money is at the center of our obesity crisis.
For the food industry, the issue is profit, of course. In such a thin-margin business, the only way to increase profit is to increase sales. No wonder they spend tens of billions on marketing annually.
But as a recovering food addict, I have an entirely different perspective on food and money, and that’s the untold thousands I spent to get my substances, completely disregarding prudence.
Literally thousands of nights, I went to a convenience or grocery store driven only by what I wanted or was convinced I needed, regardless of cost. Many times, I combined those trips with fast-food stops. One night I did it all with fast food, stopping at Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s in succession on Prospect Street in West Hartford, Conn.
I didn’t totally disregard the money because I also have a strong thrift impulse, but if the two came in conflict, the compulsion to eat always won, though I did develop a habit for day-old stores.
If you think my behavior sounds like an alcoholic’s, or better yet, a cokehead’s — spending money out of all proportion to reason — you have heard the point I’m making.
Skeptics will say, “oh, c’mon, junkies are much different. For one thing, they steal to get their substance!”
Yes, and so did I: I stole my from my mother’s household envelopes when I was a teenager, and then I stole both from the shelves and the cash register of the convenience store I worked at during high school. (I’ve made restitution for both.)
In other industries that traffic in addictive substances or behaviors — think casinos, or alcohol manufacturers and sellers — acknowledge this part of their clientele with vapid, PR-motivated slogans that they don't really want customers to heed, such as "Bet with your head, not over it," and "Please drink responsibly."
We're not nearly to that point with Big Food, though we sure ought to be.