Food Politics and Gender Politics

I just read a post on Marion Nestle’s blog, Food Politics, about Walmart’s new front-of-package “buy me” logo. Though the FDA hasn’t moved forward on putting together a system of front-of-package labeling to mark healthy and unhealthy food products, Walmart is going for it. The article suggests that the criteria for deciding which products receive a “Great for You” label are actually fairly stringent, which is a good thing.

But that’s not what caught my attention in this post. What caught my attention was the pull quote from the Walmart press release announcing this new labeling on their store-brand products:

Walmart moms are telling us they want to make healthier choices for their families, but need help deciphering all the claims and information already displayed on products…Our ‘Great For You’ icon provides customers with an easy way to quickly identify healthier food choices…this simple tool encourages families to have a healthier diet.

“Walmart moms.” Not, “our customers” or “Walmart families”, but specifically Walmart moms. It may be true that moms are the doing the majority of food shopping at Walmart, but phrasing like this precludes the possibility that anyone else in the family might have opinions or input into food choices. Do “Walmart dads” not care what their families eat? If this were a press release about a new power tool rating system, would we be hearing about what “Walmart moms” think? Probably not.

I get it. I understand traditional gender roles and how embedded they are in our culture. I just wish that they weren’t. I wish that dads were also seen as caring about their families’ health. And I wish that moms were seen as caring about power tool safety. And I wish that gender didn’t play into this at all. I wish that I were reading about “Walmart parents” caring about the health of their families.

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2 thoughts on “Food Politics and Gender Politics

  1. Frosted Shredded Wheat is “Great for You”?

    I have many problems with this and it’s not restricted to the gender issue. I have problems with *Wal-Mart* attempting to tell you what’s healthy. I have seen too many People of Walmart photos to believe they’d care.

  2. Well, according to the guidelines, added sugars must be less than 25% of of total calories per serving. One can imagine that Frosted Shredded Wheat is probably better for you than Cocoa Cool Cereal just by the name.

    As for Walmart caring, well, think of it this way: it’s not a very good business model if your customers are increasingly dying or being severely incapacitated because of your products. From a marketing perspective, if you can get your customers to become more healthy, they’re likely to live longer and, therefore, to continue buying your products longer.

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