The Nation's Health + [Nutrition]

Nutrition: Addictive Foods

Kraft Foods, Inc. is manufacturer of Kool Aid, Oscar Mayer, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Velveeta, Honey Maid Grahams, and hundreds of other processed food products. Post cereals also falls under the umbrella of Kraft with products like Raisin Bran, Post Toasties, and Fruity Pebbles. Annual revenues in 2006 for Kraft: $34.4 billion. A big operation with enormous influence over our eating habits.

Nabisco is manufacturer of Oreos, Ritz Crackers, Chips Ahoy and many others. Like Kraft/Post, it is also a big player.

While Nabisco was owned for several years by tobacco giant RJ Reynolds, in 2000 it was acquired by Philip Morris, another big tobacco manufacturer.

More recently in Spring, 2007, Philip Morris (now called Altria--you'd change your name, too, if it was synonymous with dirt) spun off its Kraft subsidiary for a big profit. However, the management structures remain intertwined.

In other words, despite the shuffling of shares, the two industries, big tobacco and big food, are in many respects one and the same.

Is it any surprise that the same industry that made billions of dollars pushing addictive nicotine products responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people is now intimately involved with addictive products produced and marketed by the processed food industry?

If you believe that food manufacturers are innocently and honestly conducting their businesses, simply think back to the testimony provided in front of Congress during the tobacco industry hearings. Broad deception, concealed truths, and outright lies were commonplace. There was no conscience involved. This was about money--and lots of it.

Why should the processed food industry, intimate with the tobacco industry, be any different?

If you want control over heart disease and your heart scan score, buy produce and buy local. Spend your time in the produce aisle, not the cereal or chip aisle. Unprocessed food, unadorned by bright labels, cartoon animals, American Heart Association endorsements, that's what we should seek.