Hip-hop video compares the food industry to drug dealers

Are food industry executives thinking and acting like drug dealers? Just a couple of days after I made that exact comparison here’s this video.

Before anyone mentions that the industry is just selling what people want, consider this from a blog post at TreeHugger:

This is usually where someone chimes in with arguments about freedom of choice, free markets and personal responsibility. And this is where the analogy between fast food and hard drugs becomes particularly useful. We don’t allow drug dealers to pedal crack cocaine for a very good reason – and we certainly don’t let them put up billboards, advertise to our kids, or lobby congress.

Freedom of choice does not work for people who are addicted. Although I would prefer to compare junk food addiction to smoking, rather than crack cocaine. That may be slightly over the top.

Is it a fair comparison? What do you think?


  1. b-nasty
    "We don’t allow drug dealers to pedal crack cocaine for a very good reason"

    It's actually not a very good reason. It should be considered the ultimate tyranny that someone else should be able to tell us what we can and can't put into our own body.

    I can only hope that as the call for tighter restrictions on addictive/'unhealthy' food products comes -- and make no mistake, it will come -- people start to wake up to injustice inherent in legislating morality. First they came for my recreational drugs and I didn't speak out...Then they came for my Kerrygold.

  2. yuma
    How can we rely on government to protect us from ourselves when government is corrupt, controlled by vested interests and relies on faulty science?

    Historically, governments have killed millions of people in pursuing their interests, more than any other institution in world's history.

    The drug analogy doesn't fly. Portugal has decriminalized ALL DRUGS and violent crime has dropped 75%.

    All drugs should be legalized, regulated and taxed, just like alcohol. Who's ever heard of a wine cartel, or a beer gang or somebody mugged for money to buy a fifth of Absolut?

  3. Trish Murphy
    I think it is pushing it to compare junk food to smoking - nicotine is highly addictive and nobody ever needs to smoke - but comparison to alcohol seems reasonable. We allow advertising of alcohol to adults and regulate sales. I think we should strictly regulate the sale of non-food calories so that children are not preyed upon, while allowing adults to make informed choices. There will always be some who cannot handle the option, just as there will always be alcoholics, but I don't know what else a democratic society can do. Big food conglomerates are using the tactics used by tobacco companies, true, but that doesn't mean junk food is addictive in quite the same way.
  4. Aubrey
    At what point do human beings take responsibility for their actions? Always expecting the government to be the parent, or the nanny is pathetic - it just encourages them to become more intrusive. Ultimately, and already, it makes people totally dependent and therefore controllable - is that what we really want? It's like a science fiction horror movie playing out in real life.
  5. Pauline
    What if the food regulators get it wrong and limit bacon and butter? I don't think we have enough answers yet. But I might support limiting food and restaurant ads aimed at children, even ads from the kale growers association, all ads. Tobacco ads aimed at children are banned; remember the old Joe Camel ads? I wonder if Saturday morning cartoons would survive the ban.
  6. Katie
    I agree with other posters -- I DO think junk food is addictive and terrible, AND I am not at all interested in seeing the government intervene. If anything, it'd be great to see the U.S. government pull the carpet out from under the junk food manufacturers by discontinuing the enormous subsidies for things like corn and soy farmers. It'd be ridiculous for the government to try to "fix" the problem with one hand while creating with the other. I wonder how much of this food could even have existed with our ridiculous farm policies over the last century ........
  7. Jennifer Snow
    Who's this "we"? And I've seen plenty of billboards and television ads for statins. It's a bad analogy but it does succeed in pointing out the hypocrisy of a lot of public policy.
  8. robert
    I must say I'm completely with Dr. Lustig on the sugar issue. If it comes in a natural package (fruit) use it in moderation, avoid anything else like the plague. I'm almost certain we won't see "show me your ID if you want to buy a fizzy drink", but I would certainly like it. It would also be a blessing if it were forbidden to offer sweets near the checkout lines. It is quite painful to watch if parents have to funnel their kids through that danger zone. The most important long-term goal for all of us however should be this: we need pure real food and it must be affordable and cost less than junk food. Currently veggies are massively more expensive (per calorie) than e.g grains. Fizzy drinks should be pushed back to where they came from, into the 'candy-zone' - probably tolerable once in a while, but not on a daily basis.
  9. What so many people don't seem to understand about addiction, is that when you become addicted to something you LOSE your freedom of choice.

    I fully support the government protecting us (and specifically, our children) from cigarettes and cocaine. I also think that the government should play a role in reducing sugar consumption in order to fight the epidemics of obesity and diabetics.

    At the very least I think the government should prevent these foods from being marketed and sold to children, who are too young to realize the consequences of their actions.

  10. Troy Wynn
    Government got us where we are today. High carb, low fat. Yea, let's go to them for the solution. How funny. Why would you put any trust in these bureaucratic fools? Here is a novel approach: Free Markets. All of these food outfits are providing what YOU want. Change your eating behaviors to whole foods, good fats, etc and guess what? These evil food outfits will provide the food products. It's not that complicated. We call it supply and demand. Demand the right foods, quit buying the crappy foods, and boom! you have a market for the high quality nutritious foods we should be eating. Until then, unfortunately, those who choose to keep eating crap will pay the price of illness, disease and poor life quality, while those of us who "get it" will enjoy the opposite.
  11. bill
    Negatory on government regulation. They'd get it wrong...again.

    It is probable that cigarettes are addictive because they are doped with sugar.

  12. Isobel Riel
    Yes, let's put guns to peoples' heads and threaten them with death if they disobey. That always works. Plus, there's nothing morally wrong with it!

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