Simon, a health policy expert and law professor, skewers the food industry for undermining the health of Americans with "nutrient deficient factory made pseudofoods." In lawyerly fashion, she explains the ABCs of the business imperative of "Big Food" (Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and McDonald's, among many others): make short-term profit without regard to the product's nutritional value or societal effects. Permissible tactics, she says, include false advertising, sham "healthy" food initiatives and co-opting the government, press and academia. Simon also argues that food-industry advocates use front groups to attack critics and spread misinformation about nutritional needs. Simon also chastises her fellow food activists for applauding all "steps in the right direction," no matter how inadequate; the press for its passive publication of scientifically dubious industry statements; and the government for abandoning effective regulation of the food industry. Her case made, Simon offers a host of suggestions and a manual-like set of directions to parents and other food activists on how to work with legislatures, school boards and the media to create a "just food system" that is "sustainable, affordable, accessible, and convenient." (Nov.)
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America's fast-food purveyors, beverage industry, and processed-food manufacturers conspire with pliant government regulators to seduce a gullible populace into eating habits that ultimately lead to ill health. So Simon, a health-policy attorney, argues in this volume. Defending their own actions as preservation of people's right to choose, these corporations and the government agencies charged with monitoring them actually restrict consumers' range of choices. This hegemony, Simon contends, leads ineluctably to the present national plagues of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other nutrition-related sickness. Simon expresses particular outrage at how the beverage industry, which so often controls schoolhouse vending machines, has tried to restrict children's choices for break-time snacks and drinks. Among the more controversial recommendations that Simon makes, nutrition labeling of restaurant meals presupposes that chefs exercise more consistency than creativity. Simon also fears that concerns about obesity often misfocus on symptoms, not causes. Mark Knoblauch
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