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Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back Hardcover – 9 Oct 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; 1 edition (9 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560259973
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560259978
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15.4 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,520,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Michele Simon is a public health lawyer who has been working as a nutrition advocate since 1996, specializing in policy analysis and legal strategies. She is the founder of the Center for Informed Food Choices and edits their newsletter, Informed Eating. She has published numerous articles about such issues as the National School Lunch Program, organic standards, the USDA's dietary guidelines, veggie libel laws, genetically engineered foods, and banning obesity lawsuits. She lectures extensively, has appeared on numerous radio programs, and teaches Health Policy at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she also received her law degree. Michele obtained her master's degree in public health from Yale University. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Big Food is facing a public relations nightmare. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 July 2007
Format: Paperback
I agree with Michelle Simon that

(1) we cannot believe anything the corporate food giants tell us
(2) they haven't the slightest interest in promoting healthy eating habits, not even for our children
(3) they are in it for profit, pure and simple
(4) they are in part responsible for the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the country
(5) their reaction to criticism is to spin, not to change.

What I don't agree with is that they are to be condemned for their practices any more than corporations in other industries. As Simon points out in the first chapter, "Anatomy of a Food Corporation: Why We Can't Trust Them," their officers have a fiduciary responsibility under the law to look out for the interests of their stock holders. In making this point Simon is following Joel Bakan whose excellent book (and film documentary) The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (2004), made it clear that corporations are, effectively speaking, pathological entities that externalize the costs of doing business whenever possible. Just as coal mining companies prefer not to clean up the mess they make, food companies prefer not to pay for the medical and other costs associated with the food they produce and sell.

I emphatically agree that it would be wonderful if there were some way we could make MacDonald's, PepsiCo, etc. foot some of the bills for obesity-related diseases. But that would require an enlightened Congress and White House, something we don't have, and are not likely to have for the foreseeable future.

What food corporations have is the power to invade our consciousnesses with their advertising.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Locofilth on 12 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book I such an important read for everyone! You really need to know what's going on in the food industry. And superbly written. Buy it now it will really open your eyes to what's going on in the food industry!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 28 reviews
127 of 131 people found the following review helpful
No solution in sight 26 July 2007
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I agree with Michelle Simon that

(1) we cannot believe anything the corporate food giants tell us
(2) they haven't the slightest interest in promoting healthy eating habits, not even for our children
(3) they are in it for profit, pure and simple
(4) they are in part responsible for the obesity epidemic that is sweeping the country
(5) their reaction to criticism is to spin, not to change.

What I don't agree with is that they are to be condemned for their practices any more than corporations in other industries. As Simon points out in the first chapter, "Anatomy of a Food Corporation: Why We Can't Trust Them," their officers have a fiduciary responsibility under the law to look out for the interests of their stock holders. In making this point Simon is following Joel Bakan whose excellent book (and film documentary) The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power (2004), made it clear that corporations are, effectively speaking, pathological entities that externalize the costs of doing business whenever possible. Just as coal mining companies prefer not to clean up the mess they make, food companies prefer not to pay for the medical and other costs associated with the food they produce and sell.

I emphatically agree that it would be wonderful if there were some way we could make MacDonald's, PepsiCo, etc. foot some of the bills for obesity-related diseases. But that would require an enlightened Congress and White House, something we don't have, and are not likely to have for the foreseeable future.

What food corporations have is the power to invade our consciousnesses with their advertising. Because virtually all media is under corporate control, its central message to consumers and the public at large, like a pit inside a peach, is "Conform your behavior in a way that benefits the corporation." Corporations not only get us to eat what we shouldn't eat, and to eat more than we should, but they get us to vote for people we shouldn't vote for. The advertising is paid for by the corporations. The politicians are beholden to the corporations.

What we are experiencing is the power of the mass media on a mass population. No one could predict just how awesome that power would be. People are more easily indoctrinated than, say, Washington or Jefferson could have imagined. We live in a democracy by capitalism. An individual's vote is nearly meaningless compared to the votes that can be bought through advertising. Most Americans are too busy making a living and dealing with the day-to-day events of their lives to become knowledgeable about the secret agendas of the corporations and their servants in the Congress, and so few people know what is right and what is wrong regarding any complex issue.

Only education--knowledge about what is really going on--is going to change the direction in which this country is headed. It's going to take a sustained effort at the grass roots level over generations to stem the tide. One result of education would be to change the legal status of corporations to make them responsible for what are now "externalized" costs of doing business. If--and only if--that were done would they behave more nearly in the public interest.

However what knowledge and education are up against is the nearly irresistible lure of products--sugar, fats, salt, easily consumed and easily digested--that were prize products in the prehistory when our ingrained appetites were forged. Big Food is seducing the primordial human in all of us, and the seduction begins at an early age and never lets up.

So there are no easy solutions. The battle against the bulge, as it used to be called, is being fought in all industrialized societies and it is being lost. For myself and some of the people I know, it is not being lost because, like Michelle Simon, we know how to eat properly and how to avoid (most!) of the temptations. The problem is how to get that message to a greater percentage of the population.

Simon's book is a step in the right direction, but only a step. She focuses on the deceptions and lies of the food industry giants, how they spin the news, how they attack opponents, etc., and she gives a lot of information on just who the spinners and liars are, and she describes the tricks they use. But as for a solution... Well, if the knowledge in this book could somehow reach all Americans through their schools and religious organizations, that would be a giant step toward a solution.
146 of 153 people found the following review helpful
hah, I sense no bitterness 29 May 2007
By F. Bi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Undoubtedly just one person is going through one five-star review after another and clicking "No" to "Was this review helpful to you?" judging by the patterns in the reviews below. Well, whoever he or she is, the person will just have to go through another. People can discredit Michele Simon all they want, but it doesn't change the fact that pretty much everything she's saying in "Appetite For Profit" is right.

There is nothing more American than what this book is trying to do: bring to light one of the toughest issues our society faces today (aside from the sustainability argument and climate change). While her views and frustration are evident, along with the massive scale of this problem, Simon successfully reframes the question with Big Food. All their cloying slogans, their favourite phrases, their dirty lobbying tactics and their endless pocketbook are exposed in "Appetite for Profit." All this hoopla about "personal responsibility" and "freedom of choice" coupled with the American "rugged individualism" are thrown out the window when we find out who's really calling the shots, and how they're managing to not get caught.

I simply cannot see how anyone can make a coherent argument for the goodness and harmlessness of Big Food after reading this book. Simon includes every false, manipulative, deceiving tactic employed by the food industry and presents a lucid counterargument. She covers all her bases; no issue is too small to go unaddressed. From vending machines in schools to the 30-year battle of making restaurants put out nutrition information, to Big Food blaming the lawyers to falsifying scientific evidence, Simon research shines.

Whoever the naysayer is on these Amazon review tabs, he or she

a) has not picked up the book and therefore has not read Simon's arguments
b) works for Big Food.

Please, anyone who can seriously debate Michele Simon's points addressed in this book, I welcome you to share them, for I would love to hear it. But if the first word out is "Energy balance" or "Personal responsibility", do us all a favour and read "Appetite for Profit."
65 of 68 people found the following review helpful
food industry...exposed 13 Jan. 2007
By Linda Bacon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I wish you could read a health claim on a food label and trust it. I wish the government recommendations on what to eat reflected science more than corporate interest. I wish food industry claims about community responsibility reflected their actions. But none of these are evenly remotely true. Appetite for Profit is a brilliant book that exposes the hypocrisy. When you read about the extent to which profit is prioritized over your health, you'll be enraged. But hang in there - by book's end, you'll also know how to channel your anger to fight back. Thank you, Michele Simon, for providing this essential activists' guide to food politics.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Frightening and provocative 2 Dec. 2006
By Rossiter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have read this book once and some chapters multiple times. Most interesting to me was the section explaining how modern food corporations operate, and why - despite their apparent best intentions at remedying a growing obesity crisis - they are legally-bound to make profit even when the public health is clearly imperiled by their products. No conspiracy theories. Just the facts. They spend billions each year on marketing to convince people to buy their lousy, nutritionally-deficient products, then preach "personal responsibility" and blame the consumer for being duped by their agressive, ubiquitous advertising. Big Food's targeting of children with ad dollars is especially angering. It's all in this book.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
If you eat, read this book! 4 Dec. 2006
By Josh Golin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Clear, concise and compelling. Appetite for Profit is a must read for anyone concerned about our current obesity crisis, the politics of food or how corporations avoid much-needed government regulation. Simon exposes the ways in which the food industry undermines the work of public advocates, detailing practices such as "nutriwashing" and Big Food's funding of its own science and attack dog front groups. Warning: Reading this book may turn you into an activist!
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