“An enormous amount of media space has been dedicated to promoting the notion that all processed food, and only processed food, is making us sickly and overweight,” writes David Freedman in a July/August 2013 Atlantic article arguing against the widely-held belief that “the food-industrial complex—particularly the fast-food industry—has turned all the powers of food-processing science loose on engineering its offerings to addict us to fat, sugar, and salt, causing or at least heavily contributing to the obesity crisis.”
According to the article, “the wholesome food movement” has consistently derided all processed foods as innately fattening, even though many offerings sold by organic and natural food purveyors contain more sugar, fat and salt than their fast-food equivalents. For Freedman, however, these efforts to demonize the food industry have overlooked not only its considerable market influence, but also the role of technology in making healthier foods as palatable as the original products. Instead, he urges consumer advocates, policymakers and other stakeholders to add processed foods to their obesity prevention arsenals and to engage with corporations that have ready access to an obese and overweight public not already served by the wholesome food movement.
“Continuing to call out Big Food on its unhealthy offerings, and loudly, is one of the best levers we have for pushing it toward healthier products—but let’s call it out intelligently, not reflexively,” cautions Freedman. “Significant regulation of junk food may not go far, but we have other tools at our disposal to prod Big Food to intensify and speed up its efforts to cut fat and problem carbs in its offerings, particularly if we’re smart about it… And we can ask the wholesome-food advocates, and those who give them voice, to make it clearer that the advice they sling is relevant mostly to the privileged healthy—and to start getting behind realistic solutions to the obesity crisis.”