Grist published – via Andy Bellatti’s Small Bites blog – an interview with Bruce Bradley, a former marketing executive with fifteen years of experience at companies such as General Mills, Nabisco and Pillsbury. Now that he’s out of the picture and associated with the locavore/real food movement, heblogs about what he learned from the perspective of someone with experience on the other side.

There were some very interesting comments in the interview, some of which I wanted to highlight. You can read the entire interview in context here.

POn your website you write that you have “observed disturbing trends in the food industry over the last 20 years.” What did you find most treacherous?

A. Things have changed dramatically since I started at Nabisco in 1992. In response to Wall Street’s profit pressure and the growing power of retailers like Walmart, the grocery industry has seen a massive wave of consolidation and falling costs.

This has affected our food supply in several ways. First, large multinational food companies now dominate the landscape. With much greater lobbying power and financial resources, these companies were able to put an end to food regulations. Second, cost savings have been a major profit driver for the industry, but have had a devastating impact on food quality and safety. Consider industrial agriculture and GMOs, to name just a few examples.Third, as consumers’ health concerns increase, processed food manufacturers have become even more aggressive, making questionable health claims or using fad diets to promote their brands and develop new products.

The net result of this transformation of the landscape has been disastrous from a public health perspective, with rising obesity rates and an endless stream of food recalls.

I’ve written about this before, but I think the harsh reality is that we have bred monsters. Our trust in these companies and what they offered us allowed them to develop an interest beyond just “making good food that people love.” It should mean protecting your investment, increasing your profit margin at all costs, and saying whatever it takes to get your money.This can be a great way to manage a business financially, but as customers we need to remember what it’s all about.

Q. In your blog you write that “confusion is one of the food industry’s proventools.” Can you tell us more about the subtle and not-so-subtle ways these companies confuse us?

Answer: I think one of the main ways the food industry tries to grow and defend its business is by funding self-interested research. The goal of this research is not to find the “truth” or improve public health. Instead, research is carefully constructed to provide reliable information and statistics to help promote products or combat potential regulations. This is one of the main reasons we have conflicting research that misleads consumers about what they should eat and drink.

Is this an intentional misrepresentation? Intent is always difficult to prove, especially without first-hand knowledge. Research is typically the work of a few companies in the processed food industry, and I have never been part of one of these groups. However, when you delve deeper into these studies and their methodology, you can usually find tell-tale signs of how they have “stacked the deck” in their favor.

I want to ensure that people pay special attention to this issue of selfish pursuit.Nowadays, research is rarely presented to the public in the interest of the common good, i.e. H. Research is not carried out exclusively for the benefit of society. Today, research is funded primarily with the aim of making a profit or creating a for-profit product. And you can bet that no company offers such a search.

Q. What three things do you think every consumer should know about Big Food?

A. Big Food is for profit. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the food brand or company it belongs to cares about you and your health.

Think critically. Most of the claims and advertisements from big food companies are aimed at manipulating you rather than educating you.Read labels and do your research.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. In the long run, you always get what you pay for. Cheap food is very expensive when you add up its true costs, such as the taxes paid to subsidize large food companies, health consequences such as obesity or diabetes, devastating damage to our environment, and the inhumane treatment of farm animals in the industrialized food system.

To me, these three things boil down to one fundamental thing that people take for granted and that we trust.More and more companies are trustingthem and their “research” is making us unhealthy and overweight. We musttherefore do everything we can to reverse the trend towards a plant-based diet.

What do you think? If you had the opportunity to interview Bruce, what would you ask him?

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