The Big Story Behind Big Sugar
As discussed in the documentary Food Inc., every grocery store is a haven for food product monopolies. Companies like PepsiCo, which owns the potato chip brand Frito-Lay and sugary drinks like Pepsi Cola and Gatorade, have stake in all levels of supermarket shelf space.
Michael Pollan, one of the experts interviewed in Food Inc., says that government subsidy (financial assistance measures) on corn and soy products is the reason why soda is so much cheaper than broccoli, and links cheap soda to obesity and other nutrition-related health problems in the United States.
According to data reported by the nonpartisan information organization Open Secrets, the amount of money PepsiCo spent lobbying in Washington, D.C., skyrocketed in 2009, a year after the release of Food Inc. In 2008, PepsiCo’s total lobbying expenditure was $1,176,000; a year later that number jumped to $9,453,000.
As of 2012, the amount of money PepsiCo’s lobbyist recorded had dropped down to $2,879,969. Special interests lobbying by companies like PepsiCo may change over time depending on how much attention the federal government is paying to their issues.
Do we have your attention yet?
While the federal government may not be attacking PepsiCo or its competitors directly, New York City’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been on a sugary-drink crusade.
Bloomberg’s proposal to place a limit on sodas larger than 16 ounces was struck down by Justice Milton A. Tingling of State Supreme Court in Manhattan earlier this month. Though Tingling called the ban “arbitrary and capricious,” Bloomberg’s administration hopes to overturn the ruling.
“We plan to appeal the sugary drinks decision as soon as possible,” read the mayor’s office Twitter account. “And we are confident the measure will ultimately be upheld.”
Doug Muzzio is a specialist in American public opinion, voting behavior and city politics. Currently a professor of Public Affairs at Baruch College, Muzzio claims that the large soda ban was not as simple as the smoking ban for the typical person to understand and support.
“There was irrefutable statistical evidence that smoking is bad for people in innumerable ways,” said Muzzio. “With sugary sodas, the causal chain is less clear. Everybody who smokes suffers some adverse consequences, basically. Not everyone who drinks 16 ounce sodas has a health problem.”
REACT to Food Inc.:
SUPPORT agricultural reform by telling Congress to include a plan to give all families access to affordable, healthy food in the new farm bill.
PLEDGE support healthy food in schools through the Action for Healthy Kids initiative.
LIVE a healthier lifestyle by packing your own lunch and opting for water during meals instead of soda or other sugary drinks.