Posted in Eco-responsibility, Food, Health, supplements, sustainability

What is Missing?

organic proteinI find so often when I read an article, be it in the news, or in a magazine, that something is missing. But then articles are not generally written with full disclosure in mind, or the inclusion of a balancing viewpoint. They are written from a bias. I’m sure even my own articles have bias. So, I accept that.

At the same time, it is helpful to have a discussion around what is being said and what may be missing. This week I was given a complimentary Alive magazine with my purchase at a local health food store. The full title of the magazine is, Alive: Canada’s Natural Health and Wellness Magazine. With special attention to Earth Day occurring in April, the magazine features eco-conscious articles and content about eating whole foods, composting, urban gardening and re-using instead of recycling. It also has an article on food insecurity, multiculturalism and inclusion. What struck me, though, was that within the magazine there are no less than 25 full page ads for supplements in capsule, tablet, or powder form, packaged in plastic bottles/jars, and sometimes packaged additionally in paper boxes.

The connect is obviously missing. Here are two very distinct messages. One says, buy these plastic bottles. The other says, care for the environment and eat natural. The message to BUY is coming across much louder and clearer than the very eco-friendly articles. How can this message about caring for the earth be believed when there is such an obvious contradiction in the magazine?

This, to me is just another one of the many examples we have in our society of do as I say, and not as I do. We need to start talking about what is missing from the conversation. For instance…

  • How many factories does it take to produce these highly “processed” supplements?
  • How much plastic is lining the shelves of health food stores?
  • Why are there such small quantities per bottle?
  • How much bio-waste is produced by these factories?
  • What portion of their budget is spent on advertising…on bottles, boxes, paper inserts, in magazines, on websites?
  • What is their profit margin?

It seems a little hypocritical to include a short article in the magazine about the importance of “inclusiveness” and “food security” when literally every third page page screams “elite” and “privilege.” Face it, who can afford supplements at $40 dollar a bottle for a month’s worth of product? And clearly you will need to buy multiple bottles, probably at least a dozen, but it could be much more. The magazine also contains an “Alive Shopping list” to help you with your decisions about which supplements in the magazine might be for you, so you can “tackle the supplement aisle with confidence.”

I admit that for me it has been a financial strain to buy supplements and I’ve never been able to afford as many supplements as I apparently “need.” So, this magazine is geared for those who earn more than I do–probably at least twice as much–who can comfortably afford the products. Think about that for a moment. While guilting those who are consuming, it is simultaneously enticing them to consume more of the highly processed, highly priced, plastic-packaged products.

As a society we may slowly be learning to walk the talk, but we still have a long way to go. We will have to ask ourselves some serious questions, one being, do we really want the sacrifices involved in the eco-friendly, whole food message?