Today’s statement of concern comes from Kelly Ahearn, MS, RD (Twitter handle: @HeyJacquieK):
“Allow me to start with this quote from American author, write, and farmer Wendell Berry: “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health. People are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.”
While this is true at a level, times are changing with the help of health conscious food companies and dietitians. The sad truth, however, is that many of Big Food’s big names still make a profit, and a hefty one at that, on the very foods that have been proven to contribute to nutrition-related problems; soda for example.
In his book “Fat Chance”, Dr. Robert Lustig explains that the over-flux of sugar in processed foods, the same foods many people become addicted to, is wrecking havoc on the body and contributing to metabolic disorders. Processed foods are also of concern because of their unhealthy fats and chemical additives.
As a Registered Dietitian, I see myself as a food and nutrition professional. I strongly believe in Gandhi’s “my life is my message” approach, and I do not support the overly processed, highly sugared, artificial ingredients that many “Big Food” companies sell (in large portions and usually targeted at children, no less). So, why would I want these very companies’ logos on my AND conference materials or in the pages of AND’s academic journal?
Like I said before, I see myself as a nutrition professional, but how can I expect others to when our organization has such close ties to the makers of soda and Cheetos?
I am not against all sponsorship. In fact, I can pinpoint some smaller companies that keep health and ethics in their business plans. It does not seem that these Big Food companies the Academy has aligned itself with have listened to us, the food and nutrition professionals, in order to make changes in their products for the health of the nation and the world. If they are not willing to work with us, then why should we promote them? Better yet, why aren’t we, The Academy, promoting local farmers who grow the fruit and vegetables that have plentiful health benefits?
It is understandable that when the public sees or hears about the fast food and soda industries tenting at our annual conference, we don’t exactly appears in their eyes as food and nutritional *professionals*.
Those of us who have joined Dietitians for Professional Integrity have concerns. We want them to be heard, addressed and changed for the better. I am very pleased with the Dietetic Practice Groups the Academy has that I am a part of, and the resources I have available to me.
I am proud to be a Registered Dietitian, but I am not proud to be sponsored by some of the same corporate companies that contribute to nutrition-related problems in not only America, but in the world. I want my concern, and that of others to help contribute to health-conscious Sponsorship model for AND. I believe in us.”