| Expect to see new ads featuring characters from Pinocchio marketing MyPyramid.gov. The USDA and the Ad Council just put out a press release announcing the new campaign, which will encourage "Moms" (not parents of both gender?) to feed their kids healthy food.
The first thing I did when I saw the news was ask Michele Simon for her opinion. She's the author of Appetite for Profit and as an expert in Big Food's slimy ways of marketing junk to kids, I knew she'd feel strongly about this one. And I was right! She said:
This is a sad sign that change has apparently NOT come to all of Washington. Teaming up with corporate sponsors whose sole goal is hook kids under the guise of "nutrition education" was a hallmark of the Bush Administration.
In this time of fiscal "responsibility" we should not be wasting more tax dollars on useless and ineffective advertising campaigns. If the new administration is serious about address childhood obesity, it should put its new FTC chairman to work on getting the junk food industry to stop targeting our kids with unhealthy messages. As for the USDA, its time would be better spent getting Big Agriculture out of the way of real reform of our broken food system.
OK, even if some of us think that Pinocchio might be an appropriate spokesperson for officials in our government, I'm with Michele on this one. I don't doubt they mean well BUT this is the wrong way to go about accomplishing their goals. Marion Nestle opened our eyes in her book Food Politics by exposing the politicization of the food pyramid - a USDA effort that still fails to tell anyone to "eat less." Rather, it encourages "balance" and tells us to "Eat Right. Be Active."
Now, "Be Active" is great advice, and it's advice that the American people should follow. But it's NOT dietary advice. It's the same advice given to Americans by the food industry via its mouthpiece, the Center for Consumer Freedom (funded by Coca-Cola and other junk food companies). Please, USDA, keep combating obesity in your list of priorities, but don't take the advice of the Center for Consumer Freedom to do it.