Monday, 26 September 2011

All Aboard!

A few times each month I stumble across some "WTF" news story.  Today was one such day.  I was listening to NaturalMessiah favourite 'The Food Program' on BBC Radio 4.  The program looked at junk food advertising to kids:
  • Sheila Dillon explores the issue of advertising junk food to children, and how companies have changed their marketing since the banning of the showing of food advertisements during children's television programmes four years ago.
All very much as I expected - the marketing men placing subtle adverts in online games and so on.  The usual yada yada (but very much worth listening to), and then my world was rocked!

Sh*t Sometimes Floats Upstream
Suddenly there was mention of Nestle's latest attempt to push their First World produce in to Third World markets; Nestle actually has a maritime supermarket that it floats up and down the Amazon:
  • The first Nestlé floating supermarket will set sail on the Brazilian Amazon to extend its reach to over 800,000 customers.Named Nestlé Até Você a Bordo – or Nestlé Takes You Onboard – the barge will journey to 18 small cities from July 1 for nearly 3 weeks, docking one day in each city. Leaving the Brazilian port of Belém, the vessel will sail to the region of Marajó Island to the city of Almeirim, into the Baixo Amazonas, or the Amazon Lowlands region, before returning to Belém.
My God, those poor ignorant souls subsisting without the help of 'Honey Nut Shredded Wheat', 'Drumstick Ice Cream' and Baby Milk?

  • Offering over 300 well-known Nestlé brands on-board including Ninho, Maggi and Nescafé, the Company has adapted its products to the region by offering smaller and cheaper versions for more accessibility for low-income customers.
Now I am fully aware of caveat emptor and all those vacuous arguments about 'why should we deny others foods that we in the West enjoy', and I am all for free markets and what-not, but this to me looks like the nutritional equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. This isn't about feeding hungry people, this is about markets and mark-up; about selling 'food-like' products - engineered to be more-ish, to those ignorant of the consequences - and like all good dealers, the first hit comes at a discount.
What this is in NO uncertain terms, is selling crapinabox to slum dwellers.  Sure that crapinabox will taste good, but it comes at a price - and perhaps if nutritional education was in place, then the folks of the Amazon wouldn't be prepared to pay that price.  Oh wait a minute, Nestle IS offering nutritional advice on board this supermarket:
  • The floating supermarket develops another trading channel which offers access to Nutrition, Health and Wellness to the remote communities in the north region of Brazil.
That's all alright then.  Glad to see that Nestle will not be taking advantage of uneducated folk by offering non-impartial advice on 'health and wellness'.  Ideally they'd include a copy of Good Calories, Bad Calories (an audio book version if necessary), in their information packs which would give the locals a pretty graphic illustration of what happens to the health of indigenous peoples when they forsake their local and seasonal foods.
Time have already reported on the problem of obesity in Brazil,
  • Already one-quarter of hospital beds are taken up by people suffering from weight-related ailments such as heart attacks, back surgeries and hip and joint replacements, says Luiz Vicente Berti, president of the Brazilian Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Unless preventive action is taken to educate people, he warns, Brazil faces a sick and expensive future. "If we don't teach people how to eat properly and exercise, then in 10 years no one will have the money to pay the hospital bills that will arise," Berti says, adding that the number of stomach-reduction surgeries carried out in Brazil had risen 500%. "The U.S. can't solve its problem, and it is the biggest economy in the world."
We know how this will end.  I give it a decade.

Baise moi!

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