Today’s statement of concern comes from Heidi Turner, MS, RD, CD:
“I was one of the RDs who contributed to Michele Simon’s original article that sparked the controversy around corporate sponsorship and AND. Andy Bellatti (co-founder and strategic director of DFPI) asked if it would be okay to republish the piece on the DFPI Facebook page, but I declined since it’s already been printed elsewhere and, quite honestly, we have read far more excellent and in-depth opinions on the topic from other concerned RDs since this page began.
So, what to say now? I think we can all agree that the increasing coziness between Big Food and the AND is a jaw-dropping travesty. And AND’s response to the outrage is equally disturbing – they seem to have adopted a line they’re going to stick with, regardless of member concern. We can talk about how revolting this is until we’re blue, but the divide between this group and AND seems more philosophical than anything.
From what I can observe, the RDs in this group agree our food should come from mostly plants and, perhaps, animals (depending on your own beliefs), and that increases in sugar, refined flours, sodium, artificial chemicals, and other lab-derived foodstuffs are making us collectively ill.
AND has a different philosophy which is what I would call more mainstream or middle-of-the-road or, shall we say, dated: High fiber, low fat and low sodium still seems to be what constitutes a healthy food in their eyes, and this philosophy works perfectly if you’re a food manufacturer that can easily design a food in their lab to meet those criteria.
I think this is why AND doesn’t really see this partnership with McDonald’s or Coca-Cola as an issue – if these companies can create foods for the American public that fit within these “healthy” guidelines, well, then, hooray, and pass the Sun Chips and Diet Coke. And if this partnership can pay for expensive conferences , education credits, lobbying, God-knows-what-else, and provide meals to feed their hungry RDs, all the better.
The longer the money keeps flowing, the more entangled these entities become, and the less chance that philosophy has the opportunity to change.
So, I think it all boils down to an outdated philosophy and, not so surprisingly, money. And if AND isn’t willing to consider the perspective of its members, then what can we as a collective group do to change the situation? I believe this is the overriding question, and I invite the members of this group to move this conversation forward from disappointment and outrage into critical thinking and action. The issue is clear, but the solutions are not. Thoughts?
One last note: I love the title “Medical Nutrition Therapist” and use it often.”