Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fighting Big Food With a Plastic Knife.

When the consumer takes on the corporation, it shouldn't be too difficult to know who to root for, right?

It's like choosing between Rocky and the Soviet killing machine (played by a nice Swedish man who studied chemistry at Washington State University).

It's similar to picking between the 1980 USA hockey team and the Soviet killing machine (many of whose members were active duty military who had reserved double-occupancy foxholes at Disney World-Afghanistan following the Lake Placid Olympics).

It's akin to making a choice between a ragtag Afghan militia and the Soviet killing machine (the guys who weren't hockey players and had already been sent over).

The consumer climbs through the ropes and meets his corporate opponent mid-ring. The champ stifles a laugh, dwarfing his challenger by a foot and fifty pounds.

David would stand a better chance facing off against Goliath while wearing a beehive and raspberry jam cod piece.

But wait, who's that shadowy figure lining up just behind and to the left of the consumer, raptly absorbing instructions from the referee?

Aha...it's a lawyer.

Instantly, the oddsmakers reshuffle the deck and score the contest a tossup.

Are you sick of my metaphoric rambling yet? Okay, I'm done. Apparently, the new trend in consumer lawsuits, after reaping windfall damages from Big Tobacco, automakers and drug companies, has gravitated toward food manufacturers, also known as "Big Food."

PepsiCo, Heinz and General Mills have grown so heavy on the branch that not even a couple of phone books are necessary to reach their over-ripened fruit.

People are angry—angry that they're being bamboozled by false and misleading ingredients, such as "evaporated cane juice," rather than sugar. Yeah, that's a little sneaky. And I understand that no company favors listing "anal beaver secretions" over a nice word like "castoreum," but shouldn't we be made slightly more aware of how our friend the beaver makes vanilla stuff taste more vanilla-ish?

Then there's the "generalizing" of nutritional information, which has incited a lawsuit in California against ConAgra, makers of PAM cooking spray. Benignly listed as one of its ingredients is the word "propellant."

Seems friendly enough, until the components of propellant—petroleum gas, propane and butane—reveal that the blueberry muffins we scooped effortlessly out of the tin this morning could be used as fuel for our weed eater.

But then there's the other stuff people complain about.: foods that claim to be "healthy" or "natural," yet common sense would dictate otherwise. A 2009 lawsuit against the manufacturer of Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries was tossed out after the judge ruled that no one in their right mind would consider Crunch Berries some kind of fruit.

Hang on a second. Does that mean those green clovers in Lucky Charms aren't chlorophyl-rich superfoods which assuage protein-deficient anemia ? Are you telling me that BooBerry contains no antioxidant rich vitamin complexes?

Damn. I thought digging deep to choke down that third bowl of Fruit Loops would pay dividends with my urinary tract and and immune system.

So here's an idea—read the freaking label—not on the front, but the back. Where it says "nutritional information" in eighteen point Futura Bold, check out the fat grams, carbs, calories and serving size.

And just because they're called "Skinny Cows," you shouldn't eat three for breakfast.

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