Dietitians For Professional Integrity’s strategic director, Andy Bellatti, interviewed Dr. Marion Nestle about her newest book, Soda Politics, in which the New York University professor “masterfully deconstructs the industry’s stratospheric rise to power as a global behemoth, gives a detailed account of the current era of increased scrutiny and amped-up soda lobbying, and thoroughly expounds on the soda industry’s marketing and corporate social responsibility tactics.”
- “Q: Your book gives advocates countless suggestions on how to tackle a number of “soda politics” problems. How can food advocacy improve?
- A: Community organizing! If you want people to support your efforts to keep food corporations from undermining the food movement, you have to work with other groups to gain support. Berkeley passed a soda tax in part because its advocates put a lot of effort into community education—in every community, rich and poor. In my opinion, a major reason for the failure of [former New York City] Mayor Bloomberg’s 16-ounce soda cap idea was the total lack of community organizing. Then, when it did happen, it was way too late. The literature on social movements has many lessons to teach food advocates.”
- Q: In the subtitle of your book, you imply that food advocates might be winning the battle against Big Soda. Can you say more?
- A: My point in the “and winning” subtitle is that food advocates are having profound effects. My personal marker is the rapidly expanding number of food studies programs. When we started food studies in 1996, we were about it. Now something like 80 universities have such programs. You may not think so, but as I see it, you, a graduate of NYU’s nutrition program, helped start Dietitians for Professional Integrity, a group that is having a major effect on dietitians’ views of food industry sponsorship. If nothing else, you’ve put the conversation on the table. Coca-Cola believes that obesity, meaning health advocacy, is the biggest threat to its profits. It is scrambling to figure out ways to make money on smaller portions and healthier drinks. Advocacy isn’t linear, but we won’t make progress without it.”