Dr Gyorgy Scrinis is a Lecturer in Food and Nutrition Politics and Policy in the Department of Agriculture and Food Systems in the Melbourne School of Land and Environment. He is also a renowned expert on food politics, and the author of Nutritionism: The Science and Politics of Dietary Advice, released earlier this year.
In this interview with Columbia University Press, Dr. Scrinis makes some very insightful connections on how the food industry takes advantage of nutritionism to foster an illusion of health.
“One of the ideological functions of nutritionism is that it is so faithfully serves the interests of the food industry. Nutritionism provides the rationale for the production of nutritional commodities, such as nutrient-fortified food products. But it also helps to construct the types of subjects—nutriticentric subjects and consumers—that desire and demand these nutritional commodities. Most nutritional messages we now receive are in the form of nutrition and health claims on food labels in food advertisements. These nutritional marketing create what I call a ‘nutritional façade’ around a food product, one designed to conceal the character and the quality of a food and its ingredients.”
He also makes a compelling case for helping people develop what he refers to as “food quality literacy”:
“We need instead to develop our food quality literacy, and for that purpose I propose ways of distinguishing types of foods based on the level and type of processing they’ve been subjected to. This sort of understanding of food quality may be more important than—though does not replace—nutritional knowledge. Rather we need a new paradigm—a food quality paradigm—within which to generate and interpret nutritional knowledge differently, and to integrate this knowledge with food production quality, cultural-traditional knowledge, and sensual-practical experience.”