Living in Los Angeles, I’m constantly bombarded with billboards trying to sell me stuff. It’s one of the most annoying things I face living here, next to traffic, where I sit with nothing to do but look at all the billboards. Most of the billboards selling a product are selling lies. For instance, the newest Coca Cola campaign says to “Open Happiness.” As if drinking Coke is going to make you happy. What a joke! Drinking Coke is going to send you into a spiral of depression, obesity, and diabetes. Sodas in general are known for their high sugar content, high fructose corn syrup to be exact, which is linked to all kinds of health problems.
Another one that drives me up a wall is all the processed junk food that says “whole grain” on the box, like cereals, breads, and pastas. I’m sorry but unless it is an actual whole grain with the bran, germ, and endosperm intact it isn’t a whole grain. Just because you took a whole grain then ripped it apart, removed all the good vitamins and minerals from it, turned it into a new product, and possibly enriched it to put the good stuff back into it, does not make it a whole grain. The FDA Dietary Requirements say we should be getting around 5 servings of carbohydrates per day with half of those being from whole grains. So, what do people do? They grab that box of sugary cereal that says “whole grain” on it thinking they are getting their daily requirements. Wrong. In my cooking classes very few people can come up with a list of whole grains longer than brown rice. Good start, but what about barley, quinoa, corn, millet, amaranth, teff, oats, rye, and red rice?
Corporations using marketing to sell lies is not a new practice. Cigarettes used to be cool and good for you. In the 1990’s the milk campaign “Milk Builds Strong Bones” was completely false and thankfully the Dairy Council was sued because they couldn't prove this to be true. The was followed by the dairy industry’s weight-loss campaign, which was cut (thanks PCRM) because the findings showed little evidence that you could lose weight eating dairy products. The government stepped in for these instances, but many corporations continue to sell lies to consumers. These companies pour billions of dollars into the government’s pocket and they have the money to spend on marketing. Money talks when it comes to the government.
So what can we do? The number one thing you can do is vote with your dollar. Do not buy from corporations that sell lies. Buy from companies that use sustainable business practices. The second thing you can do is write to your congressman. If you are a parent you need to petition to your child’s school to get vending machines and other junk food removed from the schools. If enough people come together to fight the corporations we can make a difference. But before any of this we need to stop believing the lies. We need to take responsibility to the damage we do to ourselves and the planet when we know the truth, yet continue to buy into the lies.