FOOD…For Real

This third week of Nutrition month is being interrupted in support of real food, in particular cheese. Some of you may be aware that this week the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, an organization that supposedly represents dietitians and diet technicians in the United States established a partnership with Kraft Food company. Actually I don’t have anything against Kraft. They are entitled to make a buck just like any other food company.

The  AND Foundation, an arm of the Academy, formed a partnership with Kraft to sponsor the Kids Eat Right campaign, an educational program put together by dietitians. The problem is the AND thought it was wise to give their logo to Kraft “as a thank you for their support” to display on the label of Kraft Singles ( processed cheese food).

There are so many things wrong with this move. Just for starters processed cheese is not real cheese. It starts as cheese but is broken down , shuffled up and put back together in a slice wrapped in plastic. Fine. You want to feed this to your kids, go ahead. But , sorry Kraft, this is not a product that deserves special attention by an organization that is supposed to know something about nutrition and who’s recent mantra is to “Eat Real Food”.

Then there is the whole conflict of interest boondgoggle.  The Academy  promotes itself and dietitians as “THE nutrition experts”. To truthfully live up to that expectation I believe the Academy should not be in the kitchen with big money companies. When research is published the first question we are told to ask is “who paid for the study?” and to question the results more closely, if  a company or trade group put up the research money. With this new partnership, parents and dietitians should be questioning the motives of the Academy.

Registered Dietitians in the US are a varied group. Just like any profession. This alone makes it wrong to attach the organization to big food companies. Again nothing against the food companies, this is business to them. I know dietitians who work for the large food companies, but I doubt they encourage their kids to eat processed food.

Then there is the calcium debate, the colors and preservatives and the packaging problems. Yikes I could go on. I can only ask, “What were they thinking?”

The bottom line, speaking as a registered dietitian and the person behind Eat Well Shanghai, I do not support the current association with Kraft Foods by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  My mantra is and will always be “Eat Real Food”.

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun!