Eaten by the Rich: Fixing Food Systems

3rd Place, People's Choice, Spring 2021

By: Aaurshi Kapoor, Brianna Parrington, Raksha Narasimhan

How the diet industry, corporations, and the government manipulate our perceptions of food.

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There is certainly more to dietary guidelines than meets the eye—several factors, including food lobbying by corporations, the individualization of the responsibility for health, and the moralization of healthy behaviors, combine to shape our perspective on and intake of food. Our project follows the journey of three protagonists—Raksha, Aarushi, and Brianna—as they uncover how the diet industry individualizes health and promotes eating disorders, how corporations lobby the government to promote their food products to the public, and how USDA dietary guidelines reinforce the individualization of health while sustaining the interests of corporations. After each scene of the storybook, the protagonists uncover information that allows them to expose and dismantle the ways corporations and the government influence individual diets. The initial part of the story involves an encounter between Raksha and a popular Instagram influencer. The influencer exemplifies the toxicity of the diet industry, promoting food products and diets that individualize and moralize the responsibility for health. Raksha learns more about how the diet industry conspires to individualize the responsibility for health in order to promote its products, thereby promoting disordered eating. The second portion delves into corporate food marketing and lobbying. After exploring marketing strategies, the government’s role in this case study is explored. Throughout this article, Aarushi learns about how corporate marketing has affected her perception of and consumption of food products. The third segment explores how the government influences dietary guidelines by acting in conjunction with corporations. Specifically, we will discuss how improper regulation of specific foods can be detrimental for consumer health. Vague dietary regulations may also contribute to the false image of what healthy eating is. Lastly, we discuss possible solutions to counteract these issues in order to fix such food systems.

I love this story and the way it draws us into learning about food marketing and its harms, as well as all the details about food and nutrition that come out as well. I love that it immediately resists the individual behavior (shaming!) in favor of a critique of something bigger and harder to change… great work! –Prof. Kelty

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