Friday, June 03, 2011

Consumer ignorance

(picture at left would be Christine when she was an ignorant consumer - picture at right when she was much less with the ignorance ... or maybe she was just plain idiotic for making Ninfa's green sauce a food group)

Did I ever tell you I was a Radio/Television major in college?

I wanted my emphasis to be PR, but that meant changing to a completely different (updated) catalog, which would also mean I would be required to take college algebra instead of pre-algebra. Thus, my decision was made: stick with R/TV and fill my electives with PR courses.

What it really meant was: do whatever it takes to avoid college algebra.

This right-brained gal ain't no dummy.

So, I have completed quite a bit of coursework in subjects like advertising and marketing. I came out of that experience knowing one thing for sure ...

Most people can be duped into spending money.

I get very excited to see more organic and vegan choices at my local supermarket. Yet that doesn't change the fact that big business is now trying to capitalize upon the lack of understanding in the general public. See how nice I was right there? I avoided using the word "ignorance." Remember, you didn't hear me say it. It came from this lady -

“Fast-food chains hope to cash in on consumer ignorance with labels like ‘fat-free’ and ‘low-calorie.’ But some of these foods contain more sugar, sodium, or fat than anyone should eat in an entire day, and eating them can increase your risk for obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.” - Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., the nutrition education director for the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine

Would you give your kids five Twinkies in one sitting? No, but you might buy them a Strawberry Smoothie at Sonic (which has just as much sugar as five Twinkies).

I have had Wendy's Baja Salad, and liked it. Now I know why - it has more sodium than most adults should consume in an entire day. Okay, that and the same amount of fat you would get from 16 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.

I know, right?

If the sugar and salt and fat don't get you, go for KFC's Kentucky Grilled Chicken. It contains PhIP, a chemical classified as a carcinogen by the federal government.

They play on consumer ignorance. Now, I don't think they're out to make us fat or purposefully give us cancer. I think they are out to make us love their food and THINK it's not as unhealthy as other menu items. I think they are out to produce items people enjoy eating, in the cheapest and fastest way possible. Consumers desperately want to fulfill their food cravings AND be healthier. Businesses use catch phrases, and colorful advertisements. They utilize young, skinny, glowing people in their commercials and print ads. People are duped. They can't have their proverbial cake and eat it, too. But they think they can.

My family splurges occasionally. We eat crap occasionally. Yet, we also know how quickly we can fall back into the pattern of the "occasionally" turning into the "new norm." My kids tend to be the ones to remind me to check labels and think through a choice first before ordering. They understand that just because cheese enchiladas are vegetarian, doesn't mean they are healthy. They are learning balance, and hold me accountable.

Sadly, they have also had to learn that advertisers have one goal: prey upon your fears, passions and desires so that you will spend more money on their products.


Don't be a consumer ignoramus.

Well, heck, I guess you don't want to be any kind of ignoramus, but you could at least start with the consumer part.


The Accidental Mommy said...

LOL, when I choose a college major it was partially to avoid algebra too! Then when I changed majors, I double checked that math requirement. I took the stinkin math class FOUR times before I passed.

So, don't forget chocolate milk which has all the sugar of a can of soda. They mainline it into the kids at school (which, I know yours don't have to deal with).

Unknown said...

I squeaked through that pre-algebra class with a C!

Brenda said...

Well you were smart enough to know back then that math stinks. But I agree on the food. All they care about is making a buck so they just use the words we want to hear. We have Amigos here that has a "Fiesta light" menu. Fortunately it lists all the food info right on the menu. Some of them are not ver light.

Annehueser said...

If one leaves off the dressing and the tortilla strips and orders the half-sized version, the Baja salad is a reasonable restaurant meal. But my go-to meal at Wendy's for years has been a side salad without dressing and a small chili - dump the chili on the salad and dive in. And I'm suspicious of nutrition claims about food that isn't naturally whatever they're claiming. I prefer my food fresh and as close to from scratch as I can manage.

Cheryl said...

I think I'm gonna go through and read your getting skinny and vegan-ish posts. Like some daily keep-on-track inspiration.

Jolene said...

You didn't mention the fat content of McD's oatmeal but I have to say that I was shocked it has more than a hamburger. McD's oatmeal use to be one of my fall-backs...for when I got tired of salads...

Nikki said...

Being a native Californian, I am used to getting my fair share of fresh stuff...lots of salad, fruits, nutritious smoothies etc....several years ago I went to visit a friend in Kentucky there was NOTHING RAW in her home...or, it seemed, even in the restaurants she took me to, I COULDN'T believe it! After a week I asked her if we could go out for SOMETHING fresh, a fruit smoothie, a carrot, whatever(!)just as long as it wasn't she took me to Sonic(which I was totally unfamiliar with) for a strawberry smoothie. Was I unpleasantly surprised. I still remember the first saccharine sip and the frozen, withered strawberries. She tried though, that dear friend.
Oh and PS: Yes, I know....not everyone in California eats well, and not everyone in Kentucky eats poorly :)

Anonymous said...

Yay Christine!! I am always trying to educate about nutrition and advertising. Your before and after pictures really show a detoxed bod. I am thankful for the encouragement as I have fallen off the raw,fresh,and lean diet as of late...and really need to get back on! It is soo much easier to teach than to do. :)

Unknown said...

Nikki, nice use of the disclaimer! LOL

Been there, and been burned when I didn't cover my butt.

Kristen Howerton said...

Love this! Did you know McDonalds puts a sugar syrup on their salad in addition to the dressing pack? Eww.

California is now requiring fast food joints to list the calories on the menu. Quite a wake-up call for a few things I assumed were better choices.

Annie said...

Darn; I KNEW there had to be a trick behind the McDonald's smoothies; firstly what at McDonald's is REALLY healthy? And then, they taste too good and you feel WAY too happy after having one.

jendoop said...

Nikki- I had the same problem when I moved from Colorado to Eastern Pennsylvania. (add disclaimer here)

I really try to feed my family healthy but holy cow it is hard! I do well and then they tell me what they were given in school as rewards, and somebody's birthday, and the cafeteria had extra slushies... Ugh. Not to mention all this hidden stuff. Also we're moving so no garden for us this year :(

Michelle said...

The biggest thing I've noticed in cleaning up my foods is that fast foods, that I remembered tasting oh so good, taste pretty chemically and unsatisfying. Don't get me wrong - I love a McDonalds hot caramel sundae from time to time, but I can't imagine feeling satisfied eating those foods day in and day out.

Unknown said...

Wait, Ninfa's green sauce isn't a food group? Nooooooooooooooo! (echo echo echo...)

Leah Spring said...

I tried SO HARD to avoid college algebra. SO HARD! But I *really* wanted to be a sonographer. Having two children who have Down syndrome, I really wanted this job. But there on the list of required courses was algebra. UGH!!! I took pre-algebra (something my kids to in 6th grade) and got an A. I took pre-algebra 2 and got an A. Then came THE algebra class...ok, not an A. In fact, my GPA came down significantly because of that class. Down to a 3.7. But I passed it, and that was all I needed to do. Guess what I have to take in September? PHYSICS!!!! Seriously? I am 44 years old, what am I doing taking a physics class? This one class could totally ruin my gpa in a high competitive program. But I am going to meet it head on, because I have no other choice. Now, if only I could find where to buy Almond milk so I can try those green smoothies I promised to try.