false dichotomy

There has been a flurry of news stories lately about the CDC report on sodium intake by children and adolescents in the US. In case you missed it, they are consuming a lot. Too much, according to our recommended levels, and this “revelation” has parents (and various government agencies and non-gonvernmental organizations) demanding changes to our foods and food systems. The most recent headline I saw read “CDC report flags high sodium consumption among kids; We are at the mercy of the food industry, RD says”.  

While I understand the concern over these numbers, and am happy to have more people interested in seeing positive changes in our foods I do not appreciate how polarizing these news stories are. As to the idea that we are “at the mercy of the food industry,” well, I respectfully, and completely, disagree.

Here’s my issue with that statement: by placing this issue of sodium overconsumption squarely on the (big, broad) shoulders of the food industry, we – as individuals, community members, parents, grandparents, teachers, school administrators  – free ourselves of blame and relinquish all of the power we have to identify opportunities for, and participation in, making change. If the problem is big food and I’m not big food, what role do I have to play? The answer many people may come to is “none”.

{throw up hands. walk away.}

But it’s not “none”; it’s not even close to “none”.

I don’t mean to suggest that food companies are without blame. But we aren’t either and the sooner we all accept that we DO have power, and determine how we want to use our power to make positive changes, the sooner we might all see real reform. These sensational headlines might make for exciting news, but they have also created a lot of false dichotomies – food companies vs. individual willpower, schools vs. parents, local farms vs. large-scale ag – that don’t help individuals, companies and organizations, and government bodies drive toward mutually beneficial solutions. 

So we go around and around…

Food is one of the few things I know that has the enduring ability to bring people together and I’m tired of seeing us all driven to our separate corners by false dichotomies that we are told exist. They don’t. At least they don’t have to. So let’s stop giving away our power and start talk about how we can use it. 


2 thoughts on “false dichotomy

  1. SO MANY of the messages we seem to hear as new stories make the rounds are dis-empowering. Things are TOO BIG, TOO FAR GONE, TOO SCARY to do anything about. Thanks for the reminder of our individual and collective ability to be empowered!


    1. Tim Duffey-You’re so right: food is not the only thing that is presented as TOO much of anything for us to feel like actually do have the power to change. Good thing we know better!


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