Why Big Food Is Feasting on ‘Natural’ Startups

As an RD2B, this article makes me hopeful that consumer attitudes are shifting. Now it’s our responsibility to make sure that the information they’re taking in is the right information!

Longreads

Fortune writer Beth Kowitt reports on the packaged-food industry’s response to an existential crisis: Shoppers are seeking alternatives they deem healthier and more authentic than legacy brands.

In addition to selling fruit and veggie drinks, Bolthouse grows and packages fresh carrots—an old-fashioned, weather-sensitive farming business that Morrison suspected would be a turnoff for any packaged-goods company, including her own. True enough, Morrison’s board was skeptical at first. “Carrots, Denise? Really?” asked one director. But in the end, the numbers sold themselves. The so-called packaged-fresh sector, where Bolthouse was a standout, was already an $18.6 billion business—and one with promising growth.

Campbell paid $1.56 billion for the company in 2012. Today it has roughly half that amount (more than $800 million) in sales. The following year Morrison bought baby-food maker Plum Organics for $249 million. (It has over $90 million in sales.) Both of these new businesses are small in…

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Obesity Classified as a Disability?

What an interesting topic indeed.

As of mid-January, the European Court of Justice classified obesity as a disability. Essentially, this classification now requires companies to accommodate their employees if their weight hinders their ability to perform on the job. However, the ruling did not extend to “declaring it a protected characteristic against which all discrimination is prohibited” (from The Guardian). According to these rulings, there doesn’t need to be any sort of underlying medical condition to classify it as such. But then, this makes you wonder what does “obese” mean to the law? To employers? To the employees?

Before we get into this I can already sense it’s going to be a controversial topic, and I want to mention that this is just my opinion of the situation. Feel free to disagree, in fact I’d be very interested in what you have to say if you do! It might help me gain an even better understanding of the situation. Or, if you agree with me, feel free to let me know that too! Whatever floats your boat – I want this to be a place where others feel comfortable sharing their opinions.

Now onto the content.

Obesity is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as: “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents high risk to health”. Usually it’s determined by Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a rough estimation based on your height versus your weight. For a person to be considered obese they must have a BMI of 30 or higher. I never take BMI at face value, and many agree that it isn’t an accurate representation of an individual’s fat percentage or distribution. However, in this circumstance it just provides a quick number for reference. Which only emphasizes my question of how can you legally classify obesity?

We all know obesity is linked to a plethora of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc. It is a debilitating condition, puts excessive wear on the joints and the body overall. This provides the reasoning behind the EU court’s ruling. Because obesity “hinders the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life on an equal basis with other workers…” (Guardian), they believe it to fall under the general scope of disability. Obesity is something that is difficult to live with, difficult to manage, and difficult to change. But at what point does that hinder the “full and effective participation” of an individual in a working environment? How is that defined?

It is not a cut-and-dry topic, and especially since we’re traversing into uncharted territory black and white simply doesn’t exist. On one hand this leads to the apparent accommodation of the upwards trend of obesity rates across the world. It is in this vein that I don’t whole-heartedly support the EU’s decision. On the other hand, obesity is a complex issue. Not everyone is chronically obese because they’ve “been lazy”. Some may want to lose the weight, but they get defeated by the struggle. In The Guardian’s article, the gentleman who prompted this change is in this category.

Naturally, this ruling is not a sweeping conclusion to anything. There is still room for improvement. Right now I can’t say I would support their decision in classifying obesity as a disability. I think this is a band-aid for a much bigger problem. That bigger problem being the epidemic that is fast sweeping the United States, and other parts of the world in some cases: obesity itself. The fact that this is growing. That people are discriminated against because of it. But in classic government fashion, it’s simply a way to deal with a situation without actually dealing with it.

I do, however, give kudos for bringing this situation into the light. It is a start. But I’m still not convinced we’ve unlocked that snowball which has the potential to turn the trend around.

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Question of the week: how do you think this ruling might impact society?

An Introduction

Hello internet and welcome to this lovely corner of the blogosphere I call my own!

What is this little corner you may ask? Well, simply put, I am a nutrition graduate student studying to become a registered dietitian with a master’s degree. A year and a half ago I graduated from my alma mater with a bachelor’s of science in biology and a minor in psychology, but it wasn’t until three and a half years through my undergraduate career that I hit the infamous aha! moment and discovered my true passion in life:

Nutrition!

A long time ago, before I even selected “biology” as my intended major on college applications, I found myself really intrigued by the nutrition and fitness world. That’s probably thanks to Cassey Ho of blogilates, if I’m honest. I entered into this world in an unhealthy way. After a comment made by a then-very good guy friend (my thighs were really “muscular” – body image and weight will be a whole other post, trust me) I started restricting what I was eating and working out more frequently than I had ever before. The last half of my senior year of high school I had limited myself to eating certain foods, adopting a rigid pattern of what I ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and on top of that I was a student athlete, but track practice wasn’t enough. I worked out on top of that. At the time it was never diagnosed as an eating disorder, but looking back on it I realized I was displaying those tendencies – had I let it progress who knows where I may have ended up.

Out of these unhealthy tendencies an interest in nutrition and fitness was born. I should probably say a healthy interest in nutrition and fitness. And then, at seventeen, I thought hey, maybe I can be like Cassey Ho and do stuff on YouTube and generally be a super-cool online presence spreading all that nutrition and fitness knowledge (and here I am six years later haha). After looking into a career in nutrition, but clearly not in an in-depth way, I thought a nutritionist didn’t make enough money. We can talk about all of the different career options that are open to a dietitian later, but needless to say that it is truly not what I thought it was when I stumbled across it six years ago.

A couple years later, after three and a half years as a bio major and realizing there wasn’t anything in that career path that interested me, I stumbled back into it. It was almost a spur of the moment thing, deciding to pursue this path even though it would be an additional few years. But, I was absolutely determined to do it.

Now, I’m a graduate student in the nutrition program, doing what I love in a way that’s such a different experience from my undergraduate years. So far I have found the field to be such a unique and diverse environment from anything I’ve ever experienced before. On top of that there are just so many options and so many paths to choose.

Since I’m interested in nutrition communications, and establishing an online presence has been a long time aspiration of mine, I decided to dive into 2015 by starting a blog. If you’d like to see a graduate student’s perspective on nutrition, fitness, education, and other random musings – let’s take this journey together 🙂

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