Advocacy / Marketing / Soda

Food Justice on Food Day 2014

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Drawing by Natalie Hinds, Age 10 (Based on idea by Colin Purrington)

“Food Justice is communities exercising their right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food.”  ~ Just Food

Today is Food Day and this year there is a focus on food justice.  It has special significance because voters in Berkeley and San Francisco are deciding whether to approve a measure to tax sugary beverages like soda.  Some of the authors of these measures have made the connection between the soda tax and food justice.  Tom Ammiano, John Avalos, and Eric Mar wrote:

Most folks know soda is bad for you, but not how bad. Many are also unaware that Big Soda is specifically targeting communities of color and children. Our task is to spread the word about the health disparities this creates.

These health disparities are getting even worse as Dan Taber recently pointed out:

Four studies in four weeks suggested that nutrition-related health inequities are growing. Any signs of progress are coming at the expense of people who are at the highest risk. The strategies we’ve used to stabilize obesity in the U.S. might be widening gaps in health rather than reduce them. And depending on how votes swing on November 4, things could get worse before they get better.

Fortunately, more experts are recognizing how the marketing of junk food to kids contributes to these inequities.  Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest wrote:

One issue of food justice that cuts across income levels is the marketing of junk-food to kids.

Alejandro Calvillo Unna, a leading health advocate in Mexico, put it this way:

Deceitful marketing directed at children violates their right to health and their right to not be manipulated or deceived.

We don’t put up anymore with Joe Camel trying to undermine parents in raising healthy kids and it’s time to silence the junk food marketing to kids.  When schools and libraries host Ronald McDonald, they are teaching kids that a fast food mascot should be considered a trusted friend.  The Center for a New American Dream has created a new guide to help adults understand the onslaught of aggressive marketing that kids face today.  In Kids Unbranded: Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture, they write:

Marketers go too far when they use the “parental responsibility” argument to imply that they themselves should not be held accountable for egregious intrusions into children’s lives—especially since marketers are increasingly going out of their way to circumvent parents, seeking out children in venues where parents aren’t present.

I highly recommend you download and read the entire guide here.  We don’t let Joe Camel play a starring role in kids’ lives and it’s time to give Ronald McDonald and the Coke polar bear the boot too.  It’s also time to send Big Soda a message about the millions of dollars they’ve spent on trying to defeat the soda tax at the expense of food justice.  Justin Patrick Jones framed it this way:

I call on every reader to join me in supporting Measure D and to send a message to those with money and power that they cannot buy our votes, continuing undeterred despite their harmful actions.

This Food Day, let’s heed the call for food justice by pushing back against food marketing to kids and supporting the soda tax efforts.  As Robert Reich said:

It’ll be a win that’s about more than just soda.

2 thoughts on “Food Justice on Food Day 2014

  1. Pingback: Healthy Food Drawing – about food and health

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