November 24, 2017

Poetry Friday--"America = The Bottom Line"

On Sunday, I came across a Facebook post from Paula Poundstone:


Paula has a point. Americans are gullible consumers. This led me to thinking about how corporations can change Americans' thinking about what is good and what is good-for-you. They wheedle us into thinking that what is good can also be good-for-us. For corporations, it's all about the bottom line. They exist to make money, not to make us healthy. If they make a product cheaply, sell it to a gullible population, and get that population to crave the product so that they buy more, then the corporations' bottom lines increase.

When I was young, not many outside of immigrant communities had ever heard of yogurt--a fermented dairy product. In New York where I grew up, Dannon made simple yogurt products--plain, strawberry, prune (don't turn up your nose, it was my favorite), and that was about it. Then in the 1980s yogurt started to take off. Flavors were added. Its popularity grew. One day, 8 oz. containers turned into 6 oz. containers and were sold for the same price. Then 6 oz. was reduced to 5.3 oz. The flavored yogurts soon came to include choices with chocolate bits, candies, crushed cookies, and other add-ins. A whole new market was added for even smaller, "baby-sized portions" for babies and toddlers made with "organic" ingredients. When the initial yogurt market was saturated, "Greek-style" yogurt came to light. Twice as much in price, but Americans were getting more protein! Any potential protein benefit, though, was negated by upping the sugary add-ins.

As I said, corporations are out to make money. So, here we are, you're privy to yet another rant. I've also ranted in poetry, below, and you can blame it on Paula Poundstone!
America = The Bottom Line

"Sugar gave rise to the slave trade; now sugar has enslaved us." Jeff O'Connell, Sugar Nation


The corporate monster,
spying a borderline
healthy food, rejiggers
it with sugars and corn syrup.

Markets it as good-for-you.

The food, in a mere
twinkling, has been turned
into candy--highly addictive.

Highly profitable.

Breakfast cereal was
marshmallowed, dried
fruits gummy-beared.

Irresistible to kids.

The granola bar was
festooned with caramel,
spangled with chocolate bits.

Reintroduced as The Energy Bar.

Sugar too, has a new first
name--Organic. Therefore,
it must be good for you!
Cravings need not be denied.

America loves it!

The Bottom Line loves it, too.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved.

The Black Friday edition of the Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place at Carol's Corner. Be sure to stop by!

26 comments:

  1. Some big truth here, Diane! I've been paying more attention to sugar/corn syrup, etc. and never cease to be disgusted by the ways it sneaks into what could be healthy choices!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sneaky placement is truly appalling. Even if you're trying to eat healthy, unless you're reading labels closely, you'll have trouble succeeding.

      Delete
  2. An insightful poem, Diane. Australians, too, have an unhealthy relationship with sugar, both at an individual and corporate level.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry you have the same sugar problems in your corner of the world. We just have to make each other aware of what is going on.

      Delete
  3. I was fascinated (and horrified) to learn a while back that the sugar industry funded research to promote the idea that fats are the dietary problem, not sugars. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/09/13/493739074/50-years-ago-sugar-industry-quietly-paid-scientists-to-point-blame-at-fat
    Your "rant" makes a lot of good points, Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There doesn't seem to be much corporate conscience does there?

      Delete
  4. Your epigraph is quite the zinger. Not only are we enslaved by sugar, but we are enslaved by corporations that tell us when to buy and attempt to whip us into a spending frenzy.

    One of my students asked me last week, "Which is your favorite, Black Friday or Cyber Monday?" His face glazed over when I told him neither -- I'm more focused on ENOUGH than MORE, and that my Thanksgiving weekend would be focused on GIVING, not buying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so with you on the excessive and pervasive buying. Enough is enough!

      Delete
  5. Wow, that quote from Sugar Nation! It is quite the machine, isn't it? Like Mary Lee (not the first time I've typed that this Poetry Friday!), I'm less of a consumer these days and more of an appreciator of exactly where I am. Also, we're downsizing, which is such a liberation! Thank you for your poem and your thoughts, Diane. Happy Poetry Friday! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would like to downsize, too. The hardest part is the starting. I haven't started yet...

      Delete
  6. When I started reading, I thought the Poundstone piece was an advertisement, somehow sneaked onto your post, and wondered how/why. It was then a good surprise that it worked in that way, and that you included it as the intro. I do read labels, and choose my sugar where I want it, though it isn't easy! Powerful poem, Diane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linda. Poundstone would have a hard time sneaking in anywhere. I saw her once about a dozen years ago and she was wearing a royal blue, satin pants suit. Whoa...

      Delete
  7. Rant away, Mary Lee. I enjoy a good rant especially when the ranter lets me know up front that it's coming. I am aghast at what "we" in modern life are willing to literally swallow and figuratively swallow. I think you've hit the nail on the head with Bottom Line in your poem.
    Oh, and I'm so IN on the haiku a day in December. Thanks for hosting #haikuforhealing again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I look forward to reading all of this year's December haiku. We need the healing even more this time round.

      Delete
  8. Sugar is killing us the way cigarettes used to. And corporations know it, same as the tobacco companies did. Yet, I love chocolate. And I remember pipe smoke with affection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everything in moderation! That's the key.

      Delete
  9. Alas, you are so right, Diane. I fear we've reached the point of no return as a society. Probably long ago, actually.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm with Carol, big truth here. But, in the upstate NY dairies around our farm, the old ways still hold - maple syrup (locally sourced) is the only additive in the sweet kinds varieties. More reason for me to pack up and move the hell out of New Jersey...and buy lots of Washington County yogurt.

    ReplyDelete
  11. And of course the sugar industry suppressed the research about sugar's health impacts for years.... and put the blame on fats. Ah thank goodness we now can butter and olive oil our mashed potatoes without guilt!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wonderful ranting poem Diane, though I don't think it's a rant, it's just saying it like it is. Not to many want to hear the truth. Sure is hard to find anything without sugar today, you have to read till you're blue in the face. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And nutrition labeling is a real eye-opener, too, when you see how much of the total carbs is sugar as opposed to fiber.

      Delete
  13. You are right on with your rant. I've been trying to be more conscious about what I eat--and making much more of my food myself. I still by the flavored yogurt for my husband, but have switched to plain (and add my own fruit) for me. Reading Michal Pollan's book on food was eye-opening. Even though it addresses a different corporation driven by profit over safety, your rant reminds me of Radium Girls--the story of the women who worked painting instrument dials and watches with radium (that would never hurt them and would even improve their health) but in reality caused their painful deaths. But they didn't take it lying down! They fought the companies and won victories for workers' rights and safety.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read about the radium girls in The Poisoner's Handbook: murder and the birth of forensic medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum. Interesting reading. I listened to the audio. I don't think I could have read it with all the chemical names. I get stuck stopping to figure out how each is pronounced--it really interrupts the flow! But, with the audio, someone else has done that work for me!

      Delete