What's broken

Are food brands believable? The case of an Australian grown choc chip

Picture this: Kids frolicking through sun-baked fields, the golden hue of the sun shining on their happy faces, tall wheat swaying gently in the wind, drops of crystal clear rain nourishing the earth. “Out here, fed by rain, nurtured by earth, kissed by the Australian sun, getting taller everyday…”, says the gentle young voice.

I feel warm and fuzzy inside. It taps into so much of my own personal psyche. As a kid, living in a small town surrounded by fields, I would spend hours kicking a ball about in the open air. They were the happiest days of my life. As a dad, I am fully aware that kids are our future. They need nurturing. And my kids deserve the best. They deserve wholesome, healthy, naturally grown, locally sourced food. Yep, you’ve got me hooked. I’m ready to buy. Just tell me what you are selling.

(Cut to Uncle Toby’s Choc Chip Muesli bar)

Er…are chocolate chips grown in Australia? Wouldn’t they melt in the sun? Can I take the kids chocolate chip picking at the weekend? The kids will be so excited.

I know, I know. Uncle Toby’s aren’t telling me chocolate chips are natural and locally grown. They are talking about the oats. But the intention is to give me the impression that these muesli bars are full of Australian sun-kissed wholesome goodiness. And that makes me angry, because they are not. They are full of sugar and preservatives and they are about as good for me as a can of coke. And at least the can of coke doesn’t pretend to be anything else. 

So, Uncle Toby, here’s a few reasons why I don’t believe you.

I am influenced, but by many things…

Food is a hot topic. The media are awash with information about food security, prices, fads, the sugar debate, food labelling, super-foods and the obesity epidemic. It’s very confusing. But consciously and subconsciously all this information is going into our brains to form an opinion. Little by little, we are becoming more educated about the ingredients in our food. So repackaging the same crap is still crap.

I don’t like being talked at

Twenty years ago I soaked up advertising and believed it all. But today is different. I am not a food expert, but I know there’s more to a muesli bar than oats, even if I can’t list the rest of the ingredients. So telling me it’s wholesome only makes me angry.

I believe my friends

It’s a well-known fact we trust our family and friends more than government or corporations or men in white coats. So if you are making claims about your product, remember that we gossip and today gossip spreads very quickly.

What you can do

It makes me angry that a food company can think that putting gorgeous images of kids frolicking through fields is good enough. It’s not. If this sort of advertising annoys you, get on to Uncle Toby’s Facebook page and let them know: facebook.com/uncletobys

In case you missed it:



A picture showing the evolution of man, starting with ape and finishing with man carrying fast food
What's broken

Should we be doing more to tackle obesity?

I read this week an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about a study conducted by the London School of Medicine on global obesity.

The researchers predict that if all people had increased their weight to the same average body mass index (BMI) as Americans (85 kg), it’s equivalent to adding one billion people to the world’s population. In short, it’s not just an increasing population we need to worry about for food security, it’s our widening girth.

So, now the agenda has broadened from chronic disease to ecological sustainability, are we doing enough to tackle obesity? Or are we quite happy for our kids to eat pizza and it be classified as one serving of a vegetable?

It’s a tricky line to tread, because civil libertarians would argue that as long as we can pay, we can do what we like in society, and that tackling obesity is moving towards a nanny state. The argument is the same as the tobacco industry continue to spruik – as long as you’re an adult, you should be free to choose what you want to do.

But when the burden on society is so great on our population and resources today and tomorrow, we can’t simply turn a blind eye and continue to pander to food lobbyists. Can we?

What do you think?

Should people be free to make their own choices, whatever the consequences on society? Or should governments step in and tackle the issue head on?