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What We’re Reading: Unsavory Truth

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Chances are, all of us have fallen guilty to seeing a product claim and not doing their own research to confirm if what they’re reading is true. The convincing advertisements alerting us to the latest foods that will help us live longer and be healthier are plastered on billboards, flying across our TV screens, and in-between our favorite songs on the radio.

“Pomegranates cheat death.”
“Dark chocolate lowers cholesterol.”
“Almonds boost your memory.”

If we are seeing these claims everywhere, they must be true, right? We count on nutrition science to help us make smart food choices, but when food companies paid for that research, can we trust the findings? In her latest book, Unsavory Truth, Marion Nestle exposes the unspoken agenda between nutrition researchers and the funding they receive from the food industry.

As Nestle so bluntly states in her books opening, “Unsavory Truth is about how food, beverage, and supplement companies fund nutrition researchers and practitioners and their professional associations, with the ultimate goal of promoting sales.” When the experts of these scientific studies are merging with the marketing experts who emulate the results to the public, we get the uninformed and misled consumers we have today. Nestle remarks that this happens in all parts of the marketing industry, going back as far as the 1950’s tobacco campaigns. Even though industry executives were well aware of the connection to lung cancer, campaigns were still released casting doubt that cigarettes were harmful.

Nestle’s main goal is to give consumers a fighting chance to recognize industry skewed information and make better food choices. The current decisions we are making are resulting in numerous public health issues, environmental concerns, and food insecurity. Nestle states that, “Everyone eats. Food matters. All of us need and deserve sound nutrition advice aimed at promoting public health - not corporate commercial interests.” It’s important to note that Nestle does make the distinction that “not all industry backed-research is biased” but, we must be cautious. Ultimately, Nestle is encouraging shoppers to vote with their fork and look at the contact information on food labels and have open conversations with the companies that make the food you’re consuming. Write letters, send emails, pick up the phone and ask to speak with someone. If we don’t do it, who will?

Like most health advocates, Marion Nestle concludes her book with recommendations for her readers to pursue. She motivates consumers to “eat your veggies, choose relatively unprocessed foods, keep junk foods to a minimum, and watch excessive calories.” And it’s safe to say, it’s working. SPINS has seen a monumental shift in the natural product industry, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Thanks in part to a heightened—and understandable—focus on health, natural and wellness products have continued to perform well. Natural and wellness make up a $187 billion market that is growing at 12.5%.

Head over to out SPINS blog for updates on how the industry is continuing to evolve, and how you can join the movement of living a healthier, happier, and informative lifestyle.

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