Why marketing is a bad source of information about food

By the time most people enter adulthood, they've been exposed to thousands of hours of food marketing, and almost no actual education, about food.

The industrial revolution turned food into a product. So it’s marketed as a product. And it’s product marketing that primarily shapes public beliefs about food.

The sole purpose of food marketing is to change perceptions in a way that affects choices. If marketers were unsuccessful at influencing purchase decisions, they wouldn't spend the money. As a result of this relentless marketing, our culture is awash with myths, false beliefs and manufactured desires. "Advertising makes food taste better," said advertising legend George Lois in the 2009 documentary, Art & Copy. "It changes the perception of everything." 

The worst effects is the marketing directed at children. The most heavily advertised children's products are incredibly unhealthy foods. The average child is bombarded by thousands of ads per year designed to imprint on them a strong desire to eat packaged breakfast cereals (some of which are more than 40 percent sugar), snacks, candy, soda, and fast food containing ingredients proved to promote cancer, heart disease, hyperactivity, obesity and a long list of other maladies. 

According to a study commissioned by the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, American children between the ages of 2 and 7 see an average of 12 food-related ads per day, or 4,427 per year. For kids aged 8-12, the number of daily food ads averages 21 per day, or 7,609 per year. According to the study, 34% of the ads are for candy and snacks, 28% for breakfast cereals, 10% for fast food, 4% for dairy products, 1% for fruit juices and none for fresh fruits and vegetables.

And that's just the ads. A Michigan State University study found constant references to fast food in children's TV shows — some 2.6 references per hour of programming on children's shows. The whole time children are watching TV, they're being immersed in the culture of processed, unhealthy food products. When these foods lead to childhood behavioral problems, diabetes and obesity, doctors tend to put them on drugs and often leave their toxic diets unmodified.

Look at the result of this lifelong, ubiquitous cultural conditioning: When you confront an adult with the idea of eating fresh, whole, raw, wild foods that are as close as possible to their natural state — and abstaining from the foods known to cause disease — the notion is sometimes dismissed as outlandish, extreme and bizarre.

A lifetime of bad information about food and health has transformed not only our attitudes and beliefs but changed who and what we are. We have been transformed from human beings who eat the natural human diet into to consumers who eat food products. We have been modified to the point where we now feel incapable of eating the foods that we were designed by nature to eat, foods our ancestors have eaten for thousands of years.

It’s time to turn that around. Let’s stop listening to marketing. Let’s ignore the advertising. And let’s start listening to nature, to history, to traditional cultures and to our own bodies.


Recipe: Spartan Sourdough Pizza

Pizza reigns supreme as the most comforting of comfort foods and probably the most popular food in the world. And what's not to love? It's like a symphony of scrumptious flavors created by the melding flavors of tomato sauce and melting cheese over what is, essentially, bread.

As much as we love it, pizza is far too often bastardized into a junk food, typically made with un-fermented commercial wheat, low-quality industrial cheese, canned tomato sauce and other canned toppings.

Pizza tends to leave us feeling bloated, foggy and sluggish — mainly because of the amount of unfermented dough — but also because it tends to be too greasy and because the ingredients are often canned, and therefore old and containing chemicals, including synthetic estrogen (I'll go into detail about the many problems canned food and other food packaging in an upcoming edition). 

Low-quality pizza makes us feel lousy. But high-quality pizza makes us feel energetic, mentally clear and happy. And it’s super good for you!

Here’s the secret to making the most delicious — and the healthiest — pizza in the world!

Get the recipe