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4 Ways One Country Is Fighting Big Food and Big Snack (Slideshow)

4 Ways One Country Is Fighting Big Food and Big Snack (Slideshow)
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Taxes on sugary or fat-filled foods and bans on selling toys with Happy Meals and big sodas have come under fire in the US, with opponents saying they will infringe on personal rights and liberties and invoking the dreaded “nanny state.”

In contrast, in Brazil, the government has introduced laws to protect and even improve its traditional food system. The goal is to keep transnational “Big Food” and Big Snack” companies (PepsiCo, Nestlé) and their ultra-processed food items from pushing aside well-established food systems and traditional dietary patterns that are better for people’s health.

Not only are such foods (as a recent JAMA study suggests) contributing to increases in obesity and chronic diseases including diabetes. Big Food and Big Snack are encroaching on  ”public health and public goods by undermining culture, meals, the family, community life, local economies, and national identity,” write Carlos Monteiro and Geoffrey Cannon, from the Center for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition of the University of São Paulo, in a PLoS Medicine that argues in favor of Brazil’s laws.

Monteiro and Cannon argue that foods including “packaged, long shelf-life snacks designed to displace meals” aggressively promoted by Big Food and Big Snack are not simply bad for our health, but for the fabric of society. Food and diet need to be thought of in terms of their connections to people’s well-being, the family, friendship, culture, sustainable livelihoods, environmental preservation, national identity and sovereignty; as tightly woven into society.

Brazil poses an interesting case in point as, based on an analysis of dietary practices over the past forty years, it still retains “many long-established food systems and dietary patterns,” showing influences from native populations, Portuguese colonizers and African slaves. Meals that are “prepared and eaten by the family at home” and are eaten together remain “an integral part of the Brazilian way of life.” Such applies even for the midday meal — the very meal that tends to be consumed outside the home for many Americans and often at a desk, in a car, while standing.

In contrast, it was generations ago that the US’s and UK’s traditional food systems were displaced. In the US, Canada and the UK, ultra-processed products have provided some 60 percent of total calories for the past two decades. In contrast, consumption of ultra-processed products in Brazil is 28 percent, far less than that in large, industrialized nations — but such foods made up less than 20 percent of calories in the 1980s in Brazil.

Here are some of Brazil’s regulations for fighting Big Food and Big Snack.

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Photo by Jed Sundwall

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51 comments

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3:36PM PDT on Jul 11, 2012

Since there was only 50 of you to respond, that would tell me that 1 of you voted NO.

In an effort show fairness, why?

To hell with it, read the damn article and attempt to spend a little time with before you vote. Is it that hard?

12:22PM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

Very interesting, I didn´t know.... A role model to follow :)

4:27AM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

Brazilians are light-years ahead of the US.

Monsanto doesn't have its evil, corrupting, bribe-paying hooks in the Brazilian politicians anywhere like it does here in the US.

3:45AM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

I'm surprised that isn't how school food is. Even over here, our schools don't provide food but we have canteens where we can buy it. Some food is food like salad rolls etc, but it's mostly pies, sausage rolls etc. No chips (that I know of) but you get the idea

12:26AM PDT on Jul 9, 2012

Thanks for posting.

4:48PM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

thanks

4:48PM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

thanks

1:06PM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

Interesting.

11:38AM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

Food security is a basic right. Monsanto wants to take that right away from you. If you farm, keep your seeds. Don't buy any seeds from Monsanto. They'll take away your right to grow your own food.

10:08PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

Smacks of a nanny state, but I like it. My husband and I have found that now that we prepare food together from our garden, we enjoy, not only the food, but our time together.

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