Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Politics of Food/Parent Society

During my early career as a music therapist, my social consciousness was shaped by discussions about Nestle food products in less economically developed countries in the 1970s. Nestle makes many things children love to eat, especially chocolate, baby foods, cereal, and cookies.
The problem for many of us was Nestle’s encouraging families to wean infants from breastfeeding to infant formula made by Nestle. We know that breast milk has great nutritional value for young infants. The Nestle formula had to be mixed with water — which may be contaminated in some poorer countries — and required fuel to boil the water for the formula itself and sterilization of bottles. In response to Nestle’s infant formula campaign, many socially aware people around the world boycotted all Nestle products, including chocolate milk, in hopes that Nestle would change its ways. That boycott continues to this very day.
Food and politics remain part and parcel of modern family life around the world. We buy food at the farmer’s market, neighborly country store, health food store, or supermarket. The owners of these establishments earn a profit from our purchases, reinvesting that money in their business and community. Sometimes the owner contributes to a social or political cause dear to the heart of the owner. There are those owners who also understand that supporting a candidate or cause is a politically savvy move.
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