CAUTION: dripping cynicism ahead.

The food industry doesn’t give a moldy fig for our health or nutrition, although it would sell us some if there were a profit in it and thought it could get away with it.

Farmers are in the business of growing crops and raising livestock to sell as much of them as possible at as great a profit as possible.

Food processors perform their work and services for the same reason, to sell as much as possible, at as great a profit as possible.

And so it is with food distributors, grocers and restaurants.

Huge corporate grocers such as Safeway, Kroger, Whole Foods and Piggly Wiggly even hire psychologists to help trick consumers into buying more product and higher-priced product than they truly want or need.

At least since the 1950s, food corporations have made a killing with ever-expanding creation of convenience foods. One of the early ones was Hamburger Helper, then heat-‘n’eat TV dinners.

In 1953 Swanson found itself with huge stocks of leftover turkey. It was a salesman who came up with the idea of selling the turkey in what became known as a convenient meal that consumers could eat while watching television.

A staggering 10 million TV dinners were sold that first year.

Over the years, marketing folks realized more frozen meals could be sold by “selling” the convenience of not having to prepare meals.

But don’t think any of this, including the convenience, is motivated by concerns for you and me.

While the taste of frozen dinners has improved greatly, the nutrition hasn’t so much, in my opinion.

Not that the marketers don’t claim that their meals today are healthier. That’s how they drive sales.

Almost every imaginable food has something nutritional in it, so marketers tell us that we need to eat it. It being whatever they want to sell more of. Or they may trick us into buying what they want to sell by telling us that it doesn’t have something in it.

Has anyone not been accosted at the grocery store by foods labeled “gluten free?”

One of my fantasies is to sneak into a grocery store some night and stick Gluten Free” labels on all the bottled water.

It is gluten free.

So are all fresh fruits and vegetables; nuts; poultry; beef, pork, lamb and bison; milk, butter, cheese, cream, cottage cheese, sour cream and yogurt; olives and olive oil; avocados and avocado oil; coconut oil, sesame oil, canola oil and sunflower oil.

Diet and health food gurus are akin to yesteryear’s snake oil peddlers.

For example:

The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that VitaFusion Complete Multivitamin Gummy is missing nine essential vitamins and minerals.

Masquerading as having special health benefits, General Mills’ Cheerios Protein cereal has negligibly more protein than Original Cheerios; but 16-17 times more sugar!

Sorry, folks; but even bottled, so-called spring water often isn’t what it’s advertised as. An employee of a fruit juice processing company told me that it bottled spring water. One doesn’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist to ask: WHAT?

So I did.

He told me that the company selling bottled spring water shipped hopefully legitimate spring water, which his company put in tanker trucks, which they drove to a nearby fire hydrant and filled with potable city water. Then, of course, they bottled it in bottles provided by the client and it was marketed as “spring” water.

Wouldn’t you think it’s more than past time for a new Pure Food and Drug law? One with teeth?

Terence L. Day is a retired Washington State University faculty member and a 47-year resident of Pullman. He would like to hear from readers at terence@moscow.com .

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