Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Food Morality and Marketing

I am sure we can all think of a time in our lives when someone said something or did something to us that we did not like.  Whether it was a negative comment, or a rejection, or a spiteful action or behavior that took place, our emotional response may have also been negative.

The behaviors of others can affect us greatly, positively or negatively.  And from personal experiences, I can say that when I am feeling negative, then negative occurrences typically result.  On the flip-side, when I feel good and on top of the world, I not only experience positive happenings, but I can also put a positive spin to negative experiences.

Much of the time, we try to put meaning to situations in life.  Because of our human wiring so-to-speak, we attach emotions to people, places, and things.  This concept is nothing new. 

The emotions we place on food and beverages that we see and choose to put into our bodies, however, may need to be revisited.

There seems to be a moral component that is attached to food and beverages as being "good" or "bad." 

For example, please take a moment to label the following foods/beverages as being "good" or "bad."
  1. Caffeine                                                            
  2. Chocolate
  3. Ice cream
  4. Cookies
  5. Alcohol
  6. Fast-food
  7. Chips
  8. Candy
  9. Soda
  10. Apples
  11. Celery
  12. Milk
  13. Fish
  14. Chicken breast
  15. Whole grain bread
  16. Salad
  17. Water
  18. Yogurt
My guess is the majority of readers would place foods/beverages listed from numbers 1-9 as being "bad" and foods/beverages listed from 10-18 as being "good."

Today's society has placed judgment to food and beverages as being good or bad, and as a result, we may feel good or bad depending on the food or beverages we choose to consume.

If you ask me, I say food is food and drink is drink. 

Food is a substance that provides nutritional support, provides energy, maintains life and stimulates growth.  Beverages are drinkable liquids.

So, when did food and beverages start having morals?  My guess is when the historical hunting/gathering era stopped and food industries started.

The food industry includes the following:  regulation, education, research and development, manufacturing, financial services, food processing, agriculture, wholesale, distribution, retailing, and marketing.

The food industry is a business and businesses need to market and sell their products to be successful. 

The food industry markets to us constantly. 

The next time you dine-out, take a closer look at the restaurant's menu.  There are edited photos of food such burgers oozing with melted cheese and layered with fixings, and there are word descriptors used to advertise the menu selections. 

The word descriptors attached to the menu selections:  crisp, tender, crunchy, hearty, natural, quality, wholesome, sinful, indulgent, tantalizing, creamy, and smooth are all used to get your taste buds geared up.

And the next time you make a trip to the grocery store, pay attention to how food products are being marketed to consumers.  The colorful and appealing food product packaging in addition to product descriptions are marketing strategies used for food branding. 

When I go down the cereal isle at the grocery store, I don't see cereal.  I see high-fiber breakfast products with added vitamins and minerals, that have been clinically shown to enhance my morning performance. 

The marketing of food brands continues to be highly competitive and lucrative.  Successful strategies to marketing food includes showing consumers that the food product is more that the food itself.  

So, this is the challenge we face as consumers of the foods and beverages being marketed to us.

Our challenge is to try to pay attention to the food itself.  Our challenge is to start being more mindful when we are choosing food whether we are dining out or purchasing food at the local grocery store. 

It's important to remember that food is not "good" or "bad."  Food does not have morals.

It's also important to remember that the food industry is a business.  The goal for restaurants and grocery stores is to happily accept your money.

Rather than thinking of food as being good or bad, or choosing foods on the menu or at the grocery store based on word descriptors and edited photos, maybe we should start to look at the true "value" of the foods and beverages that we are looking at with our own set of eyes.

The word "value" in this instance is not related to money, but to the nutritional value that the food and beverage products are providing for our health.

It's time to go back to the basics of fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, water, and the amount of each component we are consuming to continue to grow and function in life.

It's time to look at the nutritional value of the foods we are choosing to consume.  

I would rather have a bowl of cheerios with skim milk, a banana, yogurt, and water so my body can receive the energy it needs to function for about 450 calories versus a chocolate glazed doughnut and 20 ounce soda for 410 calories.

The first breakfast choice that provides 450 calories has a good amount of essential vitamins and minerals, protein, carbohydrate, and is low in fat. 

The second breakfast choice has 40 calories less, but does not provide essential vitamins and minerals, has very little protein, and is laden with fat and sugar.  

Industry marketers have the responsibility to sell food and beverage products to consumers. 

Society has also deemed food and beverages to have moral components.

Most importantly, it is our responsibility to take control of our own heath. 

We can start to take control of our health by looking at the nutritional value of foods and beverages before we consume them. 

We cannot control the actions of others, the marketing industries, or society's judgments.  But, we can control our own actions, and we can make the best decisions for our health by choosing foods and beverages based on their true worth of nutritional value.

The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.  -- Aristotle