Are America’s Nutritional Professionals in the Pocket of Big Food?

If you’re not an avid food politics follower, today’s title may be a bit confusing. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes.

Earlier today I came across an article published by Prevention Magazine written by Robyn O’Brien summarizing Michele Simon’s report, titled “Are America’s Nutritional Professionals in the Pocket of Big Food?”. And well, the truth is frightening.

Being a Holistic Health Counselor and a Natural Foods Chef, I’ve always found myself in the minority when it comes to the amount of trust I place on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommendations. For one, I practice food preparation and nutritional theories from both an Eastern and Western influence… the AND falling into the latter of those two categories. Therefore, I find the information flawed due to the exclusion of an entire way/practice of thinking about health (aka Eastern practices). Secondly, I find it hard to trust the information provided from an organization that’s sole purpose is to inform our population about how to maintain health, when said organization receives the majority of it’s funding from the very companies that have put our Nation’s health at risk.

Simon’s has created a cohesive journal of current information that we simply cannot ignore. This information clearly explains my distrust for not only the food we are fed, but the information we are fed about our ever degenerating health. Below are all of the facts listed in the Executive Summary of the article that are just simply appalling. Please read these points, and then go read the full article to draw your own conclusions. Regardless, I have to say this is the reality and we need to make some major changes.

  • The most loyal AND sponsor is the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, for 12 years running (2001-2012). I don’t know about you, but I can’t possibly see how the AND could say anything against the quality of products of their biggest supporter.
  • Processed food giants ConAgra and General Mills have been AND sponsors for 10 of the last 12 years. Again, what can the AND really say against these companies if they are providing the majority of funding.
  • Kellog and the National Dairy Council have been AND sponsors for 9 of the last 12 years. Ditto.
  • Companies on AND’S list of approved continuing education providers include Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Nestle, and Pepsico. See next point.
  • Among the messages taught in Coca-Cola-sponsored continuing education courses are: sugar is not harmful to children; aspartame is completely safe, including for children over one year; and the Institute of Medicine is too restrictive in its school nutrition standards. How is this even rational? This makes me so upset, I don’t even know what to say.
  • At AND’s 2012 annual meeting, 18 organizations-less than five percent of all exhibitors- captured 25 perfect of the total exhibitor space. Only two out of the 18 represented whole, non-processed foods. How backwards.
  • Based on square footage, only about 12 percent of the expo floor was taken up by fruit and vegetable vendors, using AND’s own generous classification. Well, on top of it all, it’s clear that they have no intentions of eradicating their twisted system.
  • The AND Foundation sells “nutrition symposia” sponsorships for $50,000 at the annual meeting. In 2012, Nestle presented a session on “Optimal Hydration”. Or the AND could have presented on the importance of free clean tap water for all… for no charge.
If the quality of our nation’s health isn’t obvious enough to us from the people we see on the streets every day, in person, than this information really puts it all in perspective. This problem has gotten so out of hand that it has literally infiltrated the arteries of not only our bodies, but of our information channels, too. We have no choice but to receive poor quality food AND information. What the heck is that about?
Please share this article with your loved ones, and help influence change.
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