The heavy hand of nutrition czars

How government coerces consumer food choices

By , Guest blogger

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    Government warnings about advertisements may influence consumer choices, and in the United States, government collaboration with big food industries may force consumers to choose certain foods.
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Vitaminwater has been declared to be ‘not nutritious’ by a British Advertising Czar.

The Advertising Standards Authority said Coca-Cola broke ad rules when it described its popular line of flavored water products as “delicious and nutritious” in an ad last summer, explaining that consumers wouldn’t expect a drink marketed as nutritious to have between four and five teaspoons of added sugar.

It is amazing that we live in a world where bureaucrats, whose interests are not aligned with the interests of the consumers, are given the power to make the decisions about our lifestyles and food product choices. They not only purport to protect us from ourselves, but they protect us from advertising they deem to be out of alignment with their interests.

What is even more stupefying is how government, especially the U.S. government, has managed to coerce consumer food choices with its collaboration with the very powerful Big Agra-Big Food establishment that is enabled by agricultural subsidies, FDA policy, the medical establishment, and the congressional complex that assigns and directs the privileges and power. These companies – such as Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Tyson, ConAgra, Cargill – rely on government decrees to gain acceptance, markets, and exclusivity for their products. Vitaminwater is owned by the very powerful Coca-Cola Co. As per the usual, the company relies on catchwords such as “natural,” “healthy,” “vitamins,” etc. to win over ignorant consumers who make no effort to understand the simple truth on the other side of the bottle. Here are the ingredients for Vitaminwater (one flavor).

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Distilled/deionized, crystalline fructose, citric acid, natural flavor, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), natural flavor extract (for color), electrolytes (calcium, magnesium and potassium), vitamin E acetate, zinc picolinate, taurine, vitamin A palmitate, niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), Siberian ginseng extract, chromium polynicotinate, cyanacolobalamin (B12), pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), dragonfruit juice concentrate.

So we have sugar water dressed up in a healthy name with synthetic chemicals (called vitamins) with “only” 13 grams of sugar per serving, but a bottle is 2.5 servings. And I see people buying this stuff – and similar deceptive products – in droves because they have been trained to think it is “healthy.”

Mike Adams, who tends to be hysterical and left-wing on all things food, states this in his article about the U.S.-based, anti-consumer Center for Science in the Public Interest and its lawsuit against Coca-Cola Co. for deceptive advertising in the case of Vitaminwater:

But most consumers don’t read labels. Even if they attempted to, most consumers are simply unable to decode what food labels really mean. People simply believe whatever is most prominently displayed on the front of the package, which in this case are the two words “vitamin” and “water.”

On top of that, mainstream consumers are disturbingly gullible. If a product is positioned as being healthy, that’s what people believe it’s for, even if it makes no sense whatsoever. After all, why do so many people believe Slim-Fast will make them lose weight even though it’s made mostly from processed refined sugar?

I agree completely with those two paragraphs. But for Adams, when the consumer is deemed to be inept, it is government’s job (or the job of some collective group that works in the “public interest”) to step in and sort it all out. And always, government politicians and agencies that regulate have their own agenda and their own beneficiaries who steer government policy in their favor. Somehow, that becomes a preferred option as opposed to corporate interests with their own agenda and beneficiaries?

What is the libertarian or freedom-oriented solution? It’s up to the consumer – whether the end decision is good, bad, or destructive. Additionally, the rest of us wouldn’t be paying for the consequences of the bad decisions of others through the redistribution of income via the welfare state. With government out of the way, private interests would step in to audit, test, and certify food – as well as labels and ingredients – and make recommendations to consumers in for-profit endeavors. Consumers could then choose among these various for-profit (or philanthropic) private interests to assist them in making educated choices without interference from the many competing political interests that seek to control consumer perception, choice, and access.

The other option is for human beings to actually be accountable for their own body that they own and become informed enough to make fairly educated choices. They’ll do this when it comes to making choices between 4 different models of smart phones, or when choosing car, but they leave food choices – a product that gives life – up to organizations, companies, and governments that have their own very explicit interests. But since individualism is constantly being stripped away in favor of collectivism, the concept of self-ownership, and hence self-accountability, is almost extinct among the majority of the masses. As a result, the reliance that individuals place on government to direct and regulate every aspect of their lives is driven by this collective culture.

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