Creating Irresistible Urges to Buy Irresistible Products
Let’s start this post with a movie review of ‘Wreck-It Ralph‘:
4/5 for story, 6/5 for visuals. Wowee! (I saw it in 3D).
This movie is a lot of fun, especially to see how old video game avatars are used throughout – Q-Bert, for example, is featured as a downtrodden hero living in the street with something important to say. Many other fun examples. The very strong visuals combined with frenetic action, some weirdness, and a great big helping of Gen-X nostalgia make this an irresistible treat for the eyes and ears.
One very large issue I have with the film is that it appears to be one massive advert for candy manufacturers, to the point of being disturbing. If you don’t strongly crave sugary sweets while watching this film, it might just mean you slept through it. It may be one the best examples of how Disney can push industry wishes in a most cynical and underhanded manner. In this sense, Wreck-It Ralph is a real assault on the senses and sensibilities of parents who desperately need to control children’s nutrition.
In the context of recent revelations regarding the sugar and food industries’s efforts to push tasty and addicting foods on us, the film should be viewed with at least a little skepticism. (See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2013/03/08/f-vp-crowe-big-sugar.html). Much of the junk food we eat is marketed to children using the same hard-edged tactics cigarette companies once used to lure untold numbers to addiction, disease, and death. This is not to mention the incredible burden on healthcare caused directly and indirectly by this blind pursuit of ever-greater profits. The heads of these companies, many of which are now owned and run by cigarette manufacturers, know very well that they don’t have to consume their products in order to profit. Indeed, they know they should not consume their own products.
School meal plans are generally of very poor quality, consisting largely of carbohydrates from flour and corn. Vending machines are loaded with sugary and fat-laden drinks and snacks, and there is some resistance to remove them. It seems we have a ‘right’ to poison our children and are happy to disregard the consequences. Good nutrition, like basic vision needs, is part of the foundation of early learning and health: Without a good foundation, the whole structure will fall or fail.
In his book ‘Salt Sugar Fat‘, Pulitzer prize-winning investigative journalist Michael Moss takes us on a surprising journey through the dark inner workings of the food industry. We learn how chemists, food scientists, even neuroscientists arebusy working on colours, flavours, and textures that are much more likely to addict the consumer than to provide nutrition. What we feed our children today is nothing like the real food they are supposed to eat, what we had even 40 years ago, and it matters.
1. Push for better food standards in schools. This includes completely eliminating junk food dispensers in favour of natural food options.
2. Avoid processed and prepared foods.
3. Avoid using the term ‘treat’ to refer to junk food. Call is for what it is.
4. Get to know local food producers and move away from large industrial food manufacturers’s products.
5. Try vegetarian options either by looking at cookbooks, taking classes, or going to vegetarian restaurants for ideas.
6. Remember: Kids who won’t eat what you put in front of them, will eventually eat when they are hungry. Do not allow yourself to feed your children toxic sludge simply because they are crying for it.
7. Follow Michael Pollan’s advice: Eat food, real food. Eat mostly plants. Don’t eat too much. I might add: Don’t eat after 8PM.
Finally, 8: Be aware of what you are feeding your children, both in terms of media and food. You are NOT obliged to feed them any particular ‘treat’, or show them a particular movie, or buy them electronic devices. Control intake so you can better determine growth and development of our most valued resources: Our children.