Voting With Your Dollars

The quick answer:  The modern American diet (MAD) has been implicated as a risk factor for chronic disease and premature death.  Vote with your dollars.  Avoid Food Inc’s unhealthy food-like products and eat real food. 


The Word of Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom, a scripture important to the LDS faith, is generally known for its prohibitions against tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea.  Mormons and others who avoid these substances are blessed with better health.  Studies have documented a significantly greater longevity.

But the Word of Wisdom offers counsel of even greater value—though less heeded—the guidance to build one’s diet on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, with a sparing amount of meat.  This can be interpreted to mean, “Eat food, mostly plants, as close as practical to the natural form.”  If a person had carefully followed this wise advice they would have been protected from the sad consequences of processed factory foods and (most of) the fast foods of the modern American diet (MAD). 

The Rise of Food Inc.

We often speak of Food Inc.  By this we mean the purveyors of the MAD—the packaged food-like products mainly found in the central, most traveled aisles of the modern supermarket.  It also refers to the highly processed foods offered by fast food and even some chain restaurants. 

If you will allow me to give a very brief history, the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century in the textile industry.  This was a marvelous thing for it freed women from the drudgery of making their own cloth, plus the factory processes allowed more colorful fabrics with designer patterns.  In sum, it was a wonderful thing for women.

Then the principles of the Industrial Revolution were applied to every other sector of society.  Think of Henry Ford and automobiles, Thomas Edison with his electrical appliances, or Steve Jobs’ computers and digital devices.  But there was one sad consequence:  Businessmen found a way to profit by altering—better said, adulterating—the very nature of food. 

Basically, you took a cheap commodity; used factory processes to make it sweeter, more refined and convenient; launched an advertising campaign to promote the brand; and you had a profitable business that might last several generations.  Think of Crisco, Jell-O, Velveeta processed cheese, Wonder Bread, or Kraft Mac & Cheese, to name a few.  By doing this, Food Inc has made, and continues to make, a lot of money.

Where Next

In retrospect, the industrialization of food was an enormous mistake.  I have no argument with any particular food processor.  I try not to attack any company.  But I do think that Food Inc should either join the food reformation, or disappear from the planet.  It’s not personal—we’re just trying to make the world a healthier place.  Won’t you join us?

Healthy Change

I fear that Food Inc is bigger and more powerful than the federal government—their influence over the USDA, for example, has been decried by many.  So we shouldn’t look to the government to save us. 

But Food Inc has an Achilles’ heel:  It lives and dies with the daily decisions of the humblest citizen pushing a shopping cart through the grocery store.  If we refuse to buy unhealthy foods, they’ll go the way of the dinosaurs—like Wonder Bread.  It’s that simple. 

The best way to send a message to Food Inc is to use the power of your purse.  So for the good of your family, and of the nation, practice this Healthy Change:

Vote with your dollars: only buy healthy food products.

Please Comment:  Please share your ideas for improving on the unhealthy products of Food Inc.  Or tell of a bad product you replaced with something healthier. 

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Reader Comments (15)

Great post!!!

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Not sure if the counsel in the WofW to eat vegetables, grains and less meat is of GREATER value than the counsel found to avoid alcohol and tobacco. I'm sure far more lives are lost to the latter. And certainly far more families.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShauna

Actually, Shauna, I don't know if you can claim that more lives are lost to alcohol and tobacco than to diet-related illnesses. An increasing number of studies have implicated various aspects of poor diets in deaths from illnesses that were once thought to have nothing to do with diet. No one would argue with you that alcohol and tobacco cause MANY deaths and other problems, but more? We don't know that for sure.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Doing my best - lots of healthy from the earth food and a few treats to keep husband and kids content.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjessica brown

I buy farm fresh eggs and raw milk. More expensive but totally worth it, to me.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLC

I don't know if you've covered this in a previous book but the book, "Wheat Belly" claims that even our modern wheat has been "adulterated" into a form that has been contributing to the rise in heart disease, diabetes, alzheimer's, to name a few. It is #1 on the NY Times Bestseller in self-help. So it seems that even whole grains need to experience a food revolution. It's a really interesting read.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLC

Heather, my point was that Skip's comment, "But the Word of Wisdom offers counsel of even greater value" regarding food choices isn't necessarily accurate. We may not ever know the morbidity of poor eating choices. But the facts are very clear when it comes to alcohol and tobacco.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShauna

Good post. I think as for the Word of Wisdom, avoiding alcohol and tobacco is the lesser (though very important) part of the law and eating healthy is the higher law.

You say that Food Inc should join the food revolution or die, but I'm not sure I want them joining the food revolution. They will still be looking for ways to appease consumers while still make the biggest profit possible by using poor agricultural processes, the cheapest ingredients and making the food addictive.

I read an article about Eden Foods and how the big Food Inc companies are constantly trying to buy the company, as they have most other organic companies. It's really kind of creepy. I read another article about the way Food Inc is weaseling it's people onto the USDA Organic board and changing regulations to allow potentially harmful ingredients in food labeled "organic." Honestly, I think this really comes down to "the evil designs in the hearts of conspiring men" mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. It's frustrating, but I don't see that we'll ever be able to trust Food Inc and freely buy whatever they put on the grocery store shelves. We have to take the initiative and really be informed about what we're feeding our families.

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

Power (back) to the people!
I learned cooking from scratch, and for the most part have stuck with it -- but I do stray at times. Convenience is a terribly attactive demon, isn't it?

One thing I have learned and recognize because of WOWL is that when I do stray and eat something highly processed I am not fully satisfied, and that has opened my eyes. Thank you for that, Skip (and the ever patient BW).

October 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLizA

Another great post Skip. I really enjoy and value your blog. I try to vote with my pounds here in Scotland and your healthy changes along with Michael Pollan's Food Rules are such a wonderful guide and reminder. Thank you.

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEilidh

Thank you thank you! Over the past almost two years I've been reading and re-searching particular a plant based diet. I first got on it by reading Robyn Openshaw's 12 steps to Whole foods which (who is also a church member) mentions in her book that we should eat the plants of the earth and meat sparingly and recommends keeping animal products less the 5% of your diet. Which is also what the China Study indicates as well. I'm always putting myself in a box so as to describe what I believe based on health reasons, spiritual, ethical and environmental and put myself in the "I'm trying to go vegan" box. It's mostly to explain myself without having to explain myself to others. Other's have a hard time thinking that too much dairy and meat is hard on the body, animals and the environment. But really I just want to eat a mostly plant based diet. And in what I've read of the W of W that's sort of the feeling I've gotten about it. Many of my LDS friends are doing Paleo and in my opinion I feel like it's sort of not what the Lord was planning for us. It seems too much like Atkins diet. Anyway I wanted to say thank you and recommend two of my favorite movies Hungry for Change and Food Matters. They often offer free screenings so check out their website. Anyway thank you for writing on this sensitive but super important topic.

October 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristi

I remember President Kimball telling us to grow gardens and eat what we grow. He mentioned berries specifically. Hard for a lot of us to grow wheat though; any suggestions?

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

I couldn't agree more. I was at the checkout counter of my local Sprouts, which I enjoy shopping at because of their great prices on produce and bulk grains and nuts, and the woman working the register commented, "Wow your eat REALLY healthy". The contents of my basket consisted of a plethora of vegetables and an assortment of whole grains and nuts. I remember thinking to myself, if my basket draws this much attention then we still have long way to go before we can make any real impact on Food Inc. All change begins with one step in the right direction. I am taking all of your wonderful information Skip and teaching my family and if they can each spread the information to someone they know and teach their families the reformation will come.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Skip, this is a great post! You touch on many things I believe strongly, namely, the importance of remembering the other half of the WofW and the importance of making a difference through our grocery-store choices. My husband is finishing his undergrad, but even on a student's budget (i.e. "not much moolah"), we've decided to spend a little more at the grocery store so we can have real, nourishing food that sustain us throughout the day. Yes, we love Kraft mac and cheese, but we've realized that the energy we lose from eating it isn't worth it. I KNOW he is more successful in his studies because of our healthier choices. Love your blog!

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

I like this blog. Too bad I had to read it the day after cooking a 10# spiral sliced ham and making beans with the drippings. Didn't much like the ham but the beans and cornbread were great.

No wonder you look so good.

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Chambers

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