The Power of Parents
Updated: Feb 22, 2019
At Balanced, we often say, “If it matters to the food industry [Big Food], it matters to us.”
Why? Because our advocacy is only effective when it improves the lives of the people most affected by the issue. The food industry knows this, too. Big Food’s success depends on capitalizing on the people it can most easily and readily exploit. Either via marketing or by creating captive audiences. That is, by drumming up customers based on the promotion of a product, by the convenience or cost of that product, or by virtue of customers having no other choice but that product.
As an industry, food companies are smart. They’ve done the math and they know where the purchasing power lives. They know that marketing their products to, for example, a mom of two children will result in more of their product purchased than if they market that same product to an individual only feeding themselves. After all, feeding a family requires more food than feeding one person alone. By that logic, the food industry also knows that feeding five hundred kids a day - via an institution like a school - is a lot more profitable than feeding a family. It's not a coincidence two of the food industry's biggest targets are parents and institutions.
So what does all that have to with Balanced? Everything (and more!)
Because we know how much the food industry invests in manipulating and influencing the purchasing patterns of parents with absolute disregard for the health of families, our advocacy is designed to empower and amplify the voices of parents who know their families deserve better.
Because we know the degree to which the food industry attempts to influence nutrition policy and infiltrate our community institutions, our work is rooted in giving children and families meaningful choice via healthier menus and nutrition policies.
Our work is not about convincing parents to adopt one specific diet over another. Unlike the food industry, we don't have an agenda to sell one product or ideology. Our only goal is to bring balance back to our food system and environments in a way that restores the health and longevity of our families. Unlike the food industry, that matters to us.
It seems the only thing that matters to the food industry is making the most money possible by targeting children and parents, as well as the institutions that serve them.
Keeping parents and institutions as customers so matters to the food industry it’s willing to invest billions of dollars in marketing and promoting disease-linked junk food products each year.
They're so threatened by the fact parents and institutions would serve healthier meals if those meals were more convenient and affordable, food companies buy up shelf space, mass produce cheap food, and lobby for loosened nutrition regulations - in an effort to keep menus (and thus profit) stacked in their favor.
Major food companies have spent decades deliberately shaping our food environments so that their products are overrepresented in the everyday places our families shop and eat. They understand when their food products are our only option, our only choice is to buy them; which is how our food environments came to be so distorted and public health so devastated.
We could look at the whole situation cynically and assume given the enormous wealth and influence we’re up against that righting this ship is a battle we can’t win. That Big Food has us beat and our families are destined to suffer the consequences of lifelong poor nutrition. That we are powerless. Or we could see the food industry for what it really is: an industry of manipulative cowards terrified of our collective power.
Food companies deeply understand the degree to which parents, when armed with the right tools and supports, can turn entire institutions and systems upside down.
All that hard work cornering parents and institutions? That doesn’t mean the food industry has the upper hand. It means the food industry understands the enormous power of parents. It means that without the deceit and manipulation, Big Food knows it wouldn’t survive. Major food companies know how dangerous informed parents are to their bottom lines.
The food industry knows there is nothing more powerful than parents on a mission to save the lives of their children and protect the health of their families. They know parents are relentless, unyielding, and capable of changing the world. They know parents have high expectations for the community institutions that serve our families and they know we're willing to hold those institutions accountable for the wellbeing of our loved ones.
That’s why parents matter to the food industry, and that's why they matter to us.