Thursday, February 18, 2010

a letter to the American food industry

Dear food industry,

First and foremost, thank you.

Thank you for existing. Thank you for filling our grocery shelves, shopping carts and stomachs. Thank you for funny commercials, free delivery and fabulous selection. Thank you for saving time for parents with Hamburger Helper, frozen dinners and fast food restaurants. Thank you for turning lunchtime into Food Heaven for kids (most notably with Luncheables, Handi-Snacks and Squeeze-It). Thank you for dollar menus and dollar-off coupons and under-the-cap contests.

While I thank you for the ways you have supplemented American life, I would be remiss not to thank you for even more of what you have done. So, thank you also for clogged arteries and obesity. Thank you for cancer, heart attacks and the bypass surgeries you inspire. Thank you for the fat that fills the spaces between our vital organs and the rest of our torsos, especially in people who have pot bellies. (And thanks for not fear mongering, as you would have been if you hadn't refrained from warning us it would happen. Way to go!) Thank you for diabetes, for cavities and for cankles.

We appreciate it.

What's that, food industry? You're feeling a little misled by my first paragraph? And it hurts? Well, DON'T DISH IT OUT IF YOU CAN'T TAKE IT. But that, food industry, isn't my only suggestion.

For starters, be honest. Don't act like we know what maltodextrin is. Unless you tell us it's sugar, we can't know (Oh, snap! The secret is out!). And speaking of secrets, define natural flavors. Don't act like anyone knows what it is.

And care, for once, about something other than the bottom line. Your dishonesty causes death.

You don't need to exchange morality for money. You can have both, if it's what you really want. Need I remind you what country we're in? If you tell us what your food has that we don't need (and why we don't need it) and what your food doesn't have that we do need (and what will happen if we don't get it), there are millions of lazy Americans who will still buy what you sell. If you want to get really crazy, forsake the things in your food that we don't need and sell us real food instead. If that's a step you aren't willing to take, then for the sake of the ones who care, stop acting like what you have to offer is exactly what we need.

It is evident, by the way, that you have partnered with the diet industry, the medical industry and several infomercials. But don't get excited. Several of us are aware that you cannot be healthy if all you eat is "healthy" frozen meals. We know that even a little fast food does hurt. We realize you cannot keep the results of working out if you eat anything you want and if exercise is easy, it is clear that you are doing it wrong.

But, I digress.

Finally, I also suggest you put a lot of thought into whether you will be able to live with the chest pains caused by eating what comes from your line of work, and with the stents that are sure to follow. (It might be wise, too, to consider whether you can handle knowing you caused that and worse in several million other people.)

Arleen Spenceley


Notes to readers:

1. No offense to people with pot bellies. It's important that American eaters know that as fat distributes in the body, it is more likely to show up surrounding vital organs when a person has a large stomach.

2. I have never had a cavity. Heck yeah!


  1. Regrettably, I am getting my very first cavity filled on February 26. I can't feel it, but according to X-rays, it's there. :-(

  2. :( Bummer! But let it be fuel for stickin' it to the man. That'll help us be part of the revolution the Naked Chef proposes!