It’s Time to Confront the Scourge of Capitalism in the Food System

Mr. Peanut joins other Kraft Heinz mascots in Times Square for the kick-off event of the 'Feed Your Family, Feed The World' program, on April 27, 2017 in New York City. (Photo: Jason Kempin / Getty Images for Kraft Heinz)Mr. Peanut joins other Kraft Heinz mascots in Times Square for the kick-off event of the ‘Feed Your Family, Feed The World’ program, on April 27, 2017, in New York City. (Photo: Jason Kempin / Getty Images for Kraft Heinz)

In December, the Kraft Heinz Company launched a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in response to “prolonged negative perceptions” about the health risk associated with its products. Between 2014 and 2016, Kraft Heinz’s net income fell by an astounding 24 percent, due in no small part to concerns about the corporation’s nutritional record. Kraft’s new “Family Greatly” campaign attempts to dissuade parents from substituting Kraft classics for more nutritious alternatives. Ostensibly, it enjoins parents to cut themselves some well-deserved slack, by reminding them “nobody’s perfect.” The predatory character of this advertising campaign should come as no surprise given that it has been administered by the Leo Burnett Co. advertising house of the creator of both Marlboro Man and Ronald McDonald, the originator behind both “lifestyle advertising” and “lifestyle diseases.” While much ink has been spilled critiquing the likes of Burnett (see the work of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, Adbusters and Juliet Schor), his advertising model has only grown stronger and more perverse over the decades. Therefore, a restatement of old critiques will not be enough to consign predatory advertising to the dustbin of history. The “silent ingredient in our food system” — capitalism — must be reintroduced into the food discourse, according to Eric Holt-Giménez’s A Foodie’s Guide to Capitalism. Only then will steps be taken to remedy the structural causes of predatory advertising.

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