June 20th, 2012
Progress Is Our Most Important Product
By Mark Bittman
The New York Times
Certainly there is plenty wrong with our food “system,” and it’s easy to point that out week after week. Every day there’s more bad news, and when credible people say that 900 million Indians are hungry — really hungry, not “dying” for a Snickers — the tendency is to get so depressed that one overlooks progress. (Perhaps, too, New Yorkers are born to kvetch.)
But here in the United States at least, every week there’s evidence that the pendulum is swinging. One could allow pessimism to reign, but it’s my sworn duty to occasionally point out some of The Good Stuff. And there’s been plenty the last few weeks. (All tempered, of course, but we’ll try to tame the inner curmudgeon here.)
The Walt Disney Co. announced a curb on junk food marketing aimed at kids, to be implemented by 2015. At that point, all products advertised on any of Disney’s media outlets must meet certain nutrition guidelines. Kudos to Disney for taking the lead on this issue, and though we’d like to see others follow suit, this should not be a voluntary system based on the good will of individual companies: we need real standards to which all advertisers and marketers must adhere. Attempts to curb junk food marketing through voluntary guidelines have been nearly useless, and junk food is now advertised on school buses and in schools. It’s unlikely Disney is setting a real trend; it’s just showing what needs to be the norm.