The push and pull is simply insane. No wonder people get all crazy in their heads about eating and gaining/losing weight. I was at the dentist’s office thumbing through a copy of Woman’s Day last week and hit an article about choosing the healthiest foods; smack in the middle of the first page of this article was an ad featuring the goopiest-looking piece of apple pie you’ve ever seen, with the tagline: “there’s only one thing keeping you from licking this page.” The next page featured the same mountain of pie, this time topped with an oversized dollop of irresistable creamy Reddi-Wip. That damn pie DID look good. And no, I can’t remember a thing about the healthy food choices the article was touting.
And get this: here in my hometown of San Francisco, the tantalizing aroma of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies will soon be pumped into bus stations around the city. This campaign is the brainchild of the California Milk Processor Board, in the hopes that “the captive crowds waiting for a bus will be enticed to go home and grab a glass of milk after they take a whiff of the artificial scent and are cued visually with ‘Got Milk?’ advertisements to be posted in the shelters.” This is just wrong! I say this as a person not even struggling with a weight problem, but diabetic and allergic to most baked goods. Why torture us with such empty temptation? Here we are all up in arms about bringing healthier foods into schools, and they are blasting public bus stations with the seduction of sweets?!
(btw, I love the teenager who commented: “”It’s going to smell like cookies and bums”)
Meanwhile, on the other side of the marketing camp, a new web site called HealthyDiningFinder.com is aiming to “make health(ier) restaurant dining more convenient for consumers.” The San Diego company that publishes the trendy Healthy Dining guides has teamed with the National Restaurant Association to launch this new site, which allows you to search (by zip code, type of cuisine, or price) for restaurant dishes that are lowish in calories and fat. You can also check the cholesterol and sodium content of some menu items, and links to Yahoo maps helps you find the places you select.
The site officially launches in January 2007, but you can try the beta version now. The downside is having to wade through a fair amount of PR-speak furnished by each restaurant (they pay a fee to appear on the guide). But the site claims that actual dieticians are monitoring all of the content.
Either way, I tend to doubt that anyone has our best healthy eating interests in mind here. It’s more about selling product. Let’s face it, they’d pump the aroma of healthy foods into public bathrooms if they thought that would entice us to buy, wouldn’t they?