Are Processed Food Manufacturers Trying to Advocate for the Diabetes Community?
When reading blogs and literature about diabetes, it’s impossible to not come away with the impression that at least part of the recent diabetes epidemic is a direct result of increased reliance on processed foods. These foods, treated to last longer and be easier to cook, have had a myriad of problems attributed to them, from ADHD to Type 2 Diabetes to autism. And why not? Looking at the list of ingredients in something even so simple as a box of pasta can bring a pause as you run off to fetch a chemistry book to figure it out.
However, as the culture has turned more and more towards eating healthier and as the diabetes community works hard to raise awareness about the condition, processed food companies are trying to change their image. While some have stuck to a few upbeat ads and hoped that would be enough, others are diving head first into trying to help people with diabetes better navigate grocery stores where fresh foods are becoming increasingly rare.
Before we go too much further about who’s doing what, we’d just like to say that we’re not big fans of processed foods. While their evils have probably been overstated, it’s no secret that even “simple” processed foods are loaded down with extra and unnecessary sugar, fat, and preservatives. The processed food industry has, if not specifically hurt the diabetes community, certainly not done very much to help. All the big brands have a long way to go in making sure that their food is healthier, or that healthy options are available and reasonably priced.
That said, Kraft Canada, makers of everything from mac and cheese to pudding cups, launched a website a little while ago to little fanfare promoting healthy recipes for people with diabetes. The website, part of Kraft Canada’s “What’s Cooking” section, features healthy meals made (of course) with Kraft products.
Before anyone complains, we know that the effort by Kraft is more about public relations and advertising than it is about really taking responsibility. As with any major multinational corporation, the profit motive is always there and it’s difficult to say with a straight face that Kraft is doing this purely as a public service. It does say very interesting things about the state of diabetes awareness and the work done by diabetes groups, though. That’s the real story here: diabetes awareness is working.
It wasn’t that long ago that diabetes was a private condition. Something to be kept quiet, or even be ashamed of. It was certainly not acknowledged by major multinational companies, and people with diabetes certainly didn’t have whole sections of a major marketing website devoted to us. What Kraft is acknowledging by creating a section of recipes for people with diabetes is that we are winning the culture war. Thanks to organizations and individuals tirelessly campaigning for diabetes awareness, people are taking notice and starting to realize that diabetes is serious, but that it can be beaten. Kraft is acknowledging that there are enough of us around that it makes sense to market to us. Which in turn, means that enough people with diabetes are standing up and making themselves heard loud and proud.
A site full of recipes (we haven’t tried any yet, though look for one or two in a Diabetes Dish article soon) is a small way for Kraft to start giving back to the diabetes community. It’s not enough yet, not by a long shot, but the things we’re doing are working, and we are making ourselves heard. So long as we continue to push the dialogue further, so long as people with diabetes stand up and take charge of their health, their well-being, their image, and their voice, we can overcome anything.