Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Junk Food and the Myth of Choice

by Suzanne Lindgren

Tags: Food MythBusters, Anna Lappe, Corporate Accountability International, food, health, corporate power, Suzanne Lindgren,

Food MythBusters, Mega Burger and the Myth of Choice
Corporations are pushing fast and processed foods, but our nation’s health still stands a chance. 

Fast food. We all know it’s bad for us, but somehow the lines outside drive-thru windows never seem to dwindle. Must be the delicious fries, right?

Maybe not, says Anna Lappé, author of Diet for a Hot Planet. While food corporations pile on sugar, salt, and fat to make fast and processed foods addictive, for many people these foods aren’t a choice as much as the only option. Aside from the $2 billion a year food corporations spend on ads enticing kids to nag parents for kids’ meals and sugar cereals, in communities where wholesome foods are unavailable or unaffordable, healthful options take a backseat to whatever parents can get.

The food is cheap, but Americans pay in another way, says Lappé in her latest video for Food MythBusters: with our health. By their mid-teens, one in three American kids is developing diabetes or already has it. Is it mere coincidence that a similar percentage of kids—almost one in three—eat fast food every day?

In exposing the dire toll corporate-controlled food has taken on Americans’ health, Lappé hopes to incite us to act. “This is a battle parents can’t and shouldn’t have to fight alone,” she says. “The food industry has spent millions lobbying to take away the government’s ability to regulate them. And what do we get? A national epidemic among our children.”

“The Myth of Choice” premieres September 24 at foodmyths.org, followed by a live question-and-answer session with Lappé.

Food MythBusters is a collaboration between Lappé and non-profit watchdog group Corporate Accountability International. The MythBusters videos expose how corporations benefit by spreading misleading or distracting information about the food they’d like us to eat. The first video in the series gave the lie to agribusinesses’ claim that genetic engineering, fertilizer, and pesticides are the only way to feed the world.

Image: Still from "The Myth of Choice."