Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health

by Marion Nestle
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Pub. Date:
University of California Press
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Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health

We all witness, in advertising and on supermarket shelves, the fierce competition for our food dollars.
In this engrossing exposé, Marion Nestle goes behind the scenes to reveal how the competition really works and how it affects our health. The abundance of food in the United States—enough calories to meet the needs of every man, woman, and child twice over—has a downside. Our overefficient food industry must do everything possible to persuade people to eat more—more food, more often, and in larger portions—no matter what it does to waistlines or well-being.

Like manufacturing cigarettes or building weapons, making food is very big business. Food companies in 2000 generated nearly $900 billion in sales. They have stakeholders to please, shareholders to satisfy, and government regulations to deal with. It is nevertheless shocking to learn precisely how food companies lobby officials, co-opt experts, and expand sales by marketing to children, members of minority groups, and people in developing countries. We learn that the food industry plays politics as well as or better than other industries, not least because so much of its activity takes place outside the public view.

Editor of the 1988 Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health, Nestle is uniquely qualified to lead us through the maze of food industry interests and influences. She vividly illustrates food politics in action: watered-down government dietary advice, schools pushing soft drinks, diet supplements promoted as if they were First Amendment rights. When it comes to the mass production and consumption of food, strategic decisions are driven by economics—not science, not common sense, and certainly not health.

No wonder most of us are thoroughly confused about what to eat to stay healthy. An accessible and balanced account, Food Politics will forever change the way we respond to food industry marketing practices. By explaining how much the food industry influences government nutrition policies and how cleverly it links its interests to those of nutrition experts, this pathbreaking book helps us understand more clearly than ever before what we eat and why.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520224650
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 03/04/2002
Series: California Studies in Food and Culture Series , #3
Pages: 469
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Food
Industry and "Eat More"

Undermining Dietary Advice
1. From "Eat More" to "Eat Less," 1900–1990
2. Politics versus Science: Opposing the Food Pyramid, 1991–1992
3. "Deconstructing" Dietary Advice

Working the System
Influencing Government: Food Lobbies and Lobbyists
5. Co-opting Nutrition Professionals
6. Winning Friends, Disarming Critics
7. Playing Hardball: Legal and Not

Exploiting Kids,
Corrupting Schools
8. Starting Early: Underage Consumers
9. Pushing Soft Drinks: "Pouring Rights"

Deregulating Dietary Supplements
10. Science versus Supplements: "A Gulf of Mutual

11. Making Health Claims Legal: The Supplement
War with the FDA
12. Deregulation and Its Consequences


Inventing Techno-Foods
13. Go Forth and Fortify
14. Beyond Fortification: Making Foods Functional
15. Selling the Ultimate Techno-Food: Olestra

Conclusion: The Politics of Food Choice
Appendix: Issues in Nutrition and Nutrition Research
List of Tables
List of Figures


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Food Politics 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
NJMetal More than 1 year ago
Food Politics as a fairly deep study of the politics of the food industry in the Unite States. The book can best be catagorized as text book caliber in both look and feel. Despite the in depth research, the author, Marion Nestle (no relation to the food corporation), does her best to make the information accesabile and understandable to both the professional and the casual reader alike. To be fair, you shouldn't read this book casually. I am not a food professional but I have read on the topic extensivly and thus found the content of this book extremely informing. You would do better to read other less weighty topics of food business before taking this one on as a casual reader. The political, legal and industry jargon can can intense and long winded at times and may turn off someone with only a mild interest in the topic. However if the topic of the food industry in the US is right up your alley so is this book. It is thorougly informative and educational. Im quite certain this book is used in college level classrooms across the country.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a textbook and as such may be more than the casual reader will want, however, that being said, if you want a detailed, indepth analysis of the politics of food, this is your resource.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pretty good read for anyone in the food industry. Easy to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago