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Peering into the politics of the food industry is like getting a peek behind the curtain where the Wizard of Oz is working the controls. It seems quite obvious that food giants like Kellogg work hard to become reputable and good not by the products they produce, but by the friends they make. You really have to look at the whole picture to see what's going on in the PR arena to understand why, in the end, the consumer gets it in more ways than one.
Buying a reputation by supporting a cause
Besides assessing whether huge food processors are good or bad or just doing their job, we should consider the ethics of associations like the American Heart Association, the Dietitian's Association and others who readily take the money of corporate sponsors. Does this prevent them from fully disclosing the truth about the unhealthy ingredients in many processed foods? You be the judge.
It's blunt but to the point
This quote from Common Dreams is so succinct that it bears publishing: "The American Heart Association (AHA) has sullied its reputation by getting in bed with whatever corporation comes around with its checkbook open."
Way back in 2004, reporter Robert Weissman wrote, "Subway has given $4 million to the American Heart Association (AHA) since 2002, and will gave an additional $6 million through 2007. That's a total of $10 million. In exchange, Subway gets to put the AHA 'fighting heart disease and stroke' logo on its materials throughout its chain of stores, according to an AHA spokesperson."
Kellogg raises kids on sugar then tells them they should eat right
Here is a direct quote from Kellogg: "Kellogg Company in 2005 kicked off a partnership with the Girls on the Run®, a nonprofit organization that encourages girls ages 8-13 to be more active, eat right and live a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Kellogg is sponsoring Girls on the Run over three years as part of its Kellogg's Frosted Flakes® Earn Your Stripes™ initiative."
In 3/4 cup of Kellogg's Frosted Flake there are 110 calories, zero fat, 140mg of sodium and 11 grams of sugar. Is this Kellogg's idea of part of a "healthy lifestyle"?
Kellogg also states, " To demonstrate its commitment and help call attention to this critical health issue, [Kellogg's] Smart Start Healthy Heart has launched a major heart health initiative. In addition to providing national support for the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women movement, this initiative includes free health screenings, community events, and on-pack promotions."
It's ironic that the maker of so many deleterious sugar-drenched dead food provides health screenings and claims to care about heart disease.
The list of sponsorships by Kellogg goes on. They talk about cancer, obesity and heart disease as being terrible and they say they work for at-risk elementary children.
An optimist might say this is confusing, given Kellogg's line of processed foods. A more realistic view is to say that they're riding both sides of the fence. And worse, groups like the AHA allow them to do so by censoring the truth in return for some huge donations.
Why pick on just one company?
Kellogg is but one in a list of corporations that put money in the hands of nonprofits while touting good health programs and serving millions of suffering people junk food. General Mills, the makers of Chocolate Cheerios, claims on their website that this product is a "good source of calcium." Really? I don't think so. A good source of calcium is broccoli, organic milk or kale. In a long list of good sources of calcium, Chocolate Cheerios wouldn't be anywhere near the top.
Then there's Post, purveyors of Fruity Pebbles children's cereal. Like the others, they also get the seal of the American Heart Association. No comment necessary.
Kraft is proud to help children make healthy lifestyle choices. How again?
Kraft Foods says it "is proud to collaborate with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation," an association "founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation in 2005...to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by 2015 and to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices."
So, Kraft, maker of something that's not cheese but is called cheese food, is concerned about our children's health? Kraft's Singles contains zero fat. Zero. How can anything made of cheese not contain fat? By the way, good fat is essential to everyone's health. It feeds the nerves, fuels the hormonal system, is needed for bone and brain development and healthy skin. There's also no calcium in Singles. How can a milk product not contain calcium? But Kraft gives some big bucks to nonprofits, so that make everything hunky dory.
Who's sponsoring the American Dietetic Association?
Dietitians get mad at me for writing these kinds of things, but let's be honest — the American Dietetic Association (ADA) is sponsored by some companies who produce substances that are bad for the health. Go to their website and see what I mean. You will find Coca Cola, Hershey, Mars, Kellogg, General Mills and Pepsico, among others.