Superbowl commercials get lots of attention. This is in part because of the amount of money it costs to air one during the big game, but also because of all the “creative energy” invested in tapping into public sentiment. One commercial caught our eye this year, a commercial that focused on current food system and how hard it is to resist all the bad food that is available to us.
The Weighwatchers 2015 Superbowl commercial used a series of images that reflected the unhealthy nature of the current food system, with an emphasis on fast food, junk food and highly processed foods. The voiceover even empresses sympathy for how hard it is to resist eating foods that are unhealthy for us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvUO_jU8XlI
The weightwatchers commercial then transitions to an empty plate with the text that states, “It’s time to take back control.”
Up until this point, the Superbowl spot had potential to get us all to think about the forces behind the food system which both imposes an unhealthy food system on all of us, but also profits from it. However, instead of giving viewers some clarity about what we can do, we are all admonished to join the largest diet-driven company on the planet.
Lets face it, Weightwatchers International is a huge multinational corporation that is not really about promoting public health, rather a company that uses our collective dietary struggle to promote their own products.
Weightwatchers has dozens of its own products and promotes other brands they endorse. The company does not encourage us to think about the food system in any substantial way, instead they prey on our dietary insecurities and convince us that WE CAN BE IN CONTROL.
While OKT certainly acknowledges that personal responsibility is necessary to practice a healthy food system, we also recognize that we cannot resist it by ourselves–and many simply do not have access to healthy foods. More importantly, we cannot change the current food system by simply purchasing slightly less unhealthy food products.
We believe that there has to be a radical transformation of the current food system, where food justice and food sovereignty are central to how we relate to food. https://oktable.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/what-is-food-justice-o.pdf We cannot continue to have a food system that is controlled by a small percentage of people, where exploitation of people and the land is the norm and where the public subsidizes this unhealthy food system to the tune of billions of dollars in public tax dollars supporting the Farm Bill. https://oktable.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/the-farm-bill-o.pdf.
For our Kitchen Table it is important that we not only understand how unhealthy and unjust the current food system is, we want to promote and practice food justice in the West Michigan community. We provide information and resources to work with people wanting to grow some of their own food. We work with people living in food insecure communities and offer opportunities for people to become more food independent with workshops, garden coaches, a small farmers market and opportunities for people to share food with others wanting to eat healthy and promote a just food system.
Don’t be seduced by companies who can pay millions to run a 30-second ad during the Superbowl. We invite you to join us and be part of a movement that values food justice over food brands.