Joanna Blythman, Swallow This: Serving up the food industry’s darkest secrets

Posted in : - Book reviews -, Agriculture and Food Policy, Britain's Economic Policy on by : petersen Comments: 0

Joanna Blythman,  Swallow This: Serving up the food industry’s darkest secrets: Published by Fourth Estate, London, 2015

The companies which dominate the packaged food industry are typical of companies which control an increasing proportion of the world’s economic output: their principal motivation is to increase the profits which accrue to their shareholders. This book provides very strong evidence that these companies’ products are generally not very nutritious, and often harmful to consumers’ health and/or toxic.

In the present dominant world neoliberal economic environment, these companies’ dreadful policies are completely rational. In Britain, company goals coincide closely with the British government’s goals for the industry. Defra wants to “promote a British brand, grow exports, improve skills, attract high-flyers and harness data and technology so that the industry can innovate and create jobs.” The British Government is “hugely ambitious for the future of food and farming and its potential to drive growth – that’s why we are bringing together industry to set out a vision for the future with a long-term plan to grow more, buy more and sell more British food”. (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, 2015)

It is a higher priority for most governments to attract and retain employment and stimulate economic growth through the operations of corporations, than to seek to ensure that their populations eat healthy nutritious foods. Despite the thoroughly researched findings of this excellent book, food companies’ behaviour is unlikely to change substantially any time soon.

The full review was published in Capitalism, Nature, Socialism ,Vol 27, No.2, June 2016, pp. 138-140.

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