by David G. Woolley
Editor's Note: This post is the introduction to a summer-long look at food. Join us every Tuesday for some words of wisdom. And if you think wisdom is a little too presumptuous for the Top of the Morning, you may be right. But that's not going to stop us from at least trying.
Food glorious food. It has the Snap, Crackle and Pop of the Breakfast of Champions. Beef. Its what America has for dinner. And what do they have for desert? Chewy caramel and milk chocolate. It's finger lickin' good because in this country you can always have it your way.
In the USA today there's more variety to tantalize your palate than at any time in the history of the planet. We have the semi trailer truck and the cargo ship to thank for that. If you live in Anchorage you can get a romaine salad in December and if Iowa is your home you can feast on salmon in October with a side of corn-on-the-cob. You can also get Fruity Pebbles, Fat Boys, Snickers, Coco Puffs, Starbursts, Marshmello Matees, Goo Goo Clusters, Lays, Wheaties, Orioles, Chips Ahoy, Moose Tracks, Wheatables, Yogo Sticks, Jumbo Dogs, Hot Dogs, Corn Dogs, Skor, Sun Chips, Moon Chips, Twinkies, Fruit Loops, Haggen Daus, Pringles, and Twizzlers. Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. Seven days a week. Twenty four hours a day. Processed foods are always in season.
In purely economic terms there was a time when food was a need. But sometime after 1832 when Joseph Smith announced an inspired health code, food became big business with market share, market niches, competitive pricing, wholesale, retail, profit margins, and gross incomes. Nutrition fell out of style. What tastes good became hip because "I'm lovin' it".
The competition in the packaged food industry is fierce. The profit margins are narrow. If the food goes bad on the shelf the retailer returns it and the wholesaler loses big. So what do they do? Lengthen the shelf life is the mantra of all food research and development. After millions of dollars invested in food preservation what did the researchers recommend? Add sugar. Add salt. It costs only pennies to sweeten the deal and it doubles the shelf life. Most of the researchers were MBAs not nutritionists.
Adding sugar to the equation also doubled appeal. There have been a lot of wars this past century. Nearly all of them were covered in the media. The nightly news missed the sugar war. How much hype and misery is there in something innocent like sugar, really? Sweet doesn't sell newspapers, but it sells food. And lots of it.
Sugar additives are everywhere. Even places you would never imagine. Pizza sauce. Milk. Peanut butter. Tomato paste. Canned corn. Canned beans. Canned anything. If you're in the food industry you've got to increase market share then hold it. Losing market share is death. If you're ticked you can't get your coffee taste-a-like Postum anymore, don't blame General Foods. Blame the shrinking market share for the roasted oats hot drink. The reason they dropped the product? It didn't taste very good.
In all this business about food, there is a lot of talk about low fat, low sugar, no cholesterol, sugar free, fat free. There is never a word about health promoting, disease promoting, good for you, bad for you, nutritious or non-nutritious. That discussion loses market share for everyone in the processed food industry.
So maybe Joseph Smith was right. He couldn't speak to the business of food in terms of profit margins, shelf life, or market share. But he did offer us a window to the nutrition of our day with a few words of wisdom when he wrote "in consequence of the evils and designs that do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men".
Eat well. Live well. See you next Tuesday for Part I of Words of Wisdom.
Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website. He is also a weekly contributor to the Latter Day Authors blog and he writes commentary and opinion at the Utah Ranger's Far Post blog