Society is being looked after by its governing institutions right?
Our health is more important to them than their profit is it not? Our happiness, wellbeing and longevity take priority over any booming economy, don’t they? I mean, surely the scientists, the ‘experts’, the politicians, the banks and the agricultural, food and pharmaceutical industries in which we all trust have essentially got our best interests at heart – haven’t they?
Maybe not as much as you’d like to think!
Imagine having $230 billion or so of raw products wiped from the world economy. Imagine the many multiple trillions of dollars of associated haulage, processing, retailing and administration services which depend on these raw products also shutting their doors for good.
But wait – what if these raw products on which such a large chunk of the global economy depends were actually poisonous to our health? What if the ‘fat cats’ of the western world were getting ever richer while, knowingly or not, killing us with their toxic produce? Would anyone dare rock the boat and say or do something about it if Wheat, Sugar and Vegetable Oils were poisonous for us? Evidently not!
When a problem is just too big to handle…
Sometimes, even national governments face a problem just too big to even comprehend let alone deal with. Take the Millennium Bug for example: at the turn of the century the whole of the western world was scared by computer geeks into spending reportedly £269 billion in replacing and updating perfectly good computers lest they crash when the clocks turned 01.01.00. As the morning of new millennium dawned pretty much nothing whatsoever had happened: The ‘Millennium Bug’ was a damp squib and to all intents and purpose didn’t exist at all; the theory was wrong; it was an untruth – and the countries which had always thought so (including Italy, China and Russia) chuckled smugly.
What about the huge furore that should have erupted from both the public and the government the next day? Were there ‘fingers pointed’, questions asked and ultimately heads rolling? Nope. Nothing. Nada. The public seemed happy that their ‘high tech’ world would still carry on, and both governments and big business were delighted with the money that had flowed into their coffers.
The point here is just because the whole world endorses a theory and accepts it as truth – still does not make so. And that once an established theory has been shattered, no one seems to care enough to do anything about it anyway. Once the establishment bandwagon is rolling, the truth is quickly thrust into the back seat behind all the shouting and jostling for ‘expert status’ positioning – not to mention the pressure and possible repercussions from powerful interest groups.
Perhaps this is why governments and their people still fail to recognise that manufactured, processed foods are what are really responsible for almost all our ills.
Imagine what would happen if it did become accepted that grains, sugar and industrial oils in processed foods were what were really causing most modern health problems. Would world leaders stand together shoulder to shoulder and declare an end to this poisonous trade? Not likely – the globally economy would nose-dive in a way that makes the today’s ‘Credit Crunch’ seem trivial; not to mention the sackings, the law suits, the stock market crashes and spectre of civil unrest!
Sometimes a problem actually is too big with which to deal. Every passing year makes it more abundantly clear: Processed Fats, Wheat and Sugar are behind the vast majority of modern health problems! So why is no-one doing anything about it?
The reasons are numerous and mostly benign, but they still prevent us from living the disease free lives we deserve:-
Corporate greed – As a society we have devolved responsibility for the quality preparation of our food stuffs to giant corporations: the supermarkets, the processed food companies and the junk food restaurants. These megalithic monsters have just one intrinsic and legally binding duty – to deliver their shareholders a juicy bottom line profit.
Any profitable company’s sole raison d’être is to do just that: generate profit, not improving public health or nutrition. Profit is what they do and their shareholders wouldn’t thank them if they didn’t maximise their full potential. So inevitably wherever there are opportunities for a food product to be presented healthier than it actually is and for less cost and overheads, they will almost always take it. Ker-Ching!
Public Ignorance – These days cooking and culinary skills are rarely passed on with the loving care from one generation to the next as they used to be. People just don’t know any better. Life is too fast, too ‘full on’ so who’s got time to read books, let alone invest some time and thought into how and what they cook?
Personal Accountability – We tend to be a trusting lot. We glibly assume our government and ‘big business’ wouldn’t do anything too awful to us. We tend to take at face value the convenient, cherry-picked science our government passes our direction, and believe that large, recognised and respected organisations are fully in control of matters they are supposed to be experts in.
To be fair though, our elected governments and MPs are none the wiser either: most don’t know any more than anyone else in such matters and, to complicate matters, it’s part and parcel of their job to rub shoulders with ‘big industry’ and the pressure groups that support them. Few MPs dare rock the boat or bite the hand that feeds for fear of a ballot box backlash come the next elections.
Too many influential people have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. If they did happen to stumble across the holy grail of good health – if it was free – what’s the betting they’d shove it straight back into its dusty box and bury it somewhere it could never be found?
The establishment simply has too much invested in the existing state of affairs and the consequences of major changes are just too difficult to even contemplate. Simple, cheap solutions to big problems don’t unfortunately make money for important people so are never going to be welcomed by the people in power.
Sloth – Actually, this isn’t a real reason at all – so it shouldn’t really be on the list! Most people are neither lazy nor slothful – they just lack perspective, knowledge and motivation. Of course people aren’t likely to spend their time preparing food at home when they believe that something almost as nutritious and perhaps as tasty can be found in a supermarket ready-made meal. It’s not even true to say we don’t have enough time in our day; people have just as much time as they’ve always. In a convenient exception to all the world’s other terrible inequalities, everyone gets allocated exactly the same 24 hours each day, whether millionaire or beggar.
The problem is those people who believe they have ‘no time to cook’ just don’t prioritise it highly enough over all the other uses of their time to make it happen. They would rather work longer hours, spend more time socialising, sitting in front of the TV, or whatever else. This is of course their choice, but would they make the same choices if they knew the full facts?
It’s not the case that our government doesn’t care at all for our welfare – because it clearly does – unfortunately! If it didn’t care, it would keep its dubious health advice to itself and we would all be much better off. No, the problem is that it does care for our health (at least a bit) but has two hugely incompatible agendas.
- Improving the nation’s health
- Raising big companies’ profits to strengthen the economy.
Unfortunately, these objectives are almost totally at odds with one another (or at least they are while all the big money remains in processed foods). Governments are trapped between a mighty big rock and seriously hard place, and someone’s definitely not going to be happy.
So rather than risk putting someone’s nose out of joint prioritising what’s most important, what we’ve ended up with is some horrible attempt at a compromise: a supposedly ‘healthy diet’ for the individual which still maximises the profit of big corporations.
Hell, even McDonald’s and Coca-Cola were allowed to sponsor the London Olympics – an occasion which should celebrate health and vitality, not promote its biggest opponents!
Cronyism and mutual back scratching have run amok in the world of consumer health. The British Nutrition Foundation are the people who advise government, schools, industry, health professionals and the public on all matters to do with health and food. It exists, apparently, to deliver “authoritative, evidence-based information on food and nutrition” and claims to be “world class in the interpretation and translation of complex nutritional science.”
However, lurking within the 39 members that contribute to the BNF’s funding are some multi-billion pound ‘food’ companies including: Cadbury, Coca Cola, Kellogg’s, Northern Foods, Nestlé, McDonald’s, PizzaExpress, and most of the main supermarket chains. The former chairman of its board of trustees, Paul Hebblethwaite, was at the very same time wearing another hat: that of Chairman of the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Trade Association. Now there’s a man who wrestled with a serious conflict of interests!
When this is the sort of ‘independent’ and ‘impartial’ advice that drives government policy, are you sure you want to take every last word of it on face value?
This clear conflict of interest is made even worse by the pharmaceutical companies’ obvious vested interest in seeing our poor health continued. In this way they can happily rake in the profits from alleviating our symptoms, while the causes remain unaddressed. (The multi-billion pound prescriptions for statins to combat high cholesterol are a prime example of this – even when diet and exercise remain the simple, free and profitless solution to this threat).
In short, we’ve got ourselves in a right merry mess!
Successive governments have collaborated out of sheer desperation with pressure groups, the medical industry and the self-interest of the processed food industry. In doing so, they have effectively told us what to think and have closed our minds to considering other possibilities, even when it is clear to those who dare look that this mass-engineered experiment has not worked. The end result is that the whole way we think about health and weight loss has become tainted.
At last, it seems that, although the establishment is not yet ready to listen, we as a population are crying out to try something different. And this means, for the moment, ignoring the official line that stubbornly refuses to change – despite being ridiculed daily by the ever-growing statistics that prove its abject failure.