How, one might wonder, did Neal Norman get a HawaiiLife Real Estate ad on the front page of The Garden Island under the guise of “local news”?
Yup, the firm’s unadulterated press release for an $18 million house at Anini is reprinted as issued, just like TGI is doing promotions for Neal or something. Slurpy, syrupy language like this provides the tip-off:
Contemporary design meets superior construction along Kauai’s famed North Shore at 3580 Anini Road, a 4,888-square-foot oceanfront estate with over 400 feet of world-renowned Anini Beach frontage.
“This is one of the most A-plus properties anywhere on Kauai,” Norman [gushed]. “It’s a house with a sense of place.”
Yeah. Some place else.
Just when you think TGI — and Neal — can’t sink any lower…. they do.
Meanwhile, in a galaxy far away, “Big Food” is taking a hit where it hurts: the wallet. After repeated hammering by advocacy groups and media, consumers are becoming increasingly suspicious of the processed food that has dominated grocery stores for the past half-century. As Fortune reports:
“We understand that increasing numbers of consumers are seeking authentic, genuine food experiences,” said Campbell Soup Co. CEO Denise Morrison, “and we know that they are skeptical of the ability of large, long-established food companies to deliver them.”
In response, huge companies like General Mills and Kraft are reducing sugar and moving away from artificial colors and flavors. They’re also moving into the so-called “packaged-fresh” sector and buying up smaller “natural food” companies, along with their executives, with some formerly upstart brands like Hain Celestial now moving into the real of “big food” themselves.
As Fortune reports:
Following a trend in the tech industry, legacy food companies are on an acqui-hiring spree, hoping to gobble up foodpreneurs, their more agile management operations — and their know-how in the natural food arena.
Executives now even talk a bit differently, infusing a more wholesome-sounding vocabulary in day-to-day conversation. The company “cooks” and “preserves” rather than “processes” and “manufactures”; employees follow “recipes,” not “formulas.”
So how much of this industry shift is real, and how much is just marketing and public relations, like Neal's ad-cum-article? And how committed, really, are consumers to this new trend of “gluten-free, organic and natural” products? This paragraph from the Fortune article provides a clue:
Americans are willing to give up a lot for their newfound interest in wellness. But apparently they are not willing to say goodbye to chocolate and candy, which have resisted the declines felt in other parts of the packaged-food industry.
But even Hershey, one of the fastest-growing big U.S. food and beverage companies of the past five years, is trying to clean up its act, finding replacements for artificial ingredients like vanillin and emulsifiers. Jolly Rancher, however, will probably be left alone — but only because apparently consumers don't expect that a product made from corn syrup and artificial flavors and colors should be healthy.
Speaking of candy, science journalist John Bohannon is chortling over how he tricked people into believing chocolate enhances weight loss for an expose on the junk science-diet industry. As he notes:
Here’s a dirty little science secret: If you measure a large number of things about a small number of people, you are almost guaranteed to get a “statistically significant” result.
Combine that with fake journal publishers, who don’t require any peer review, and unquestioning media, like TGI, and voila, bullshit is presented as fact. As Bohannon writes:
The promise of an “exclusive” story is very tempting, even if it’s fake. There was no quality control. That was left to the reporters. I felt a queasy mixture of pride and disgust as our lure zinged out into the world.
We landed big fish before we even knew they were biting. When reporters contacted me at all, they asked perfunctory questions. Not a single reporter seems to have contacted an outside researcher.
There was one glint of hope in this tragicomedy. While the reporters just regurgitated our “findings,” many readers were thoughtful and skeptical. In the online comments, they posed questions that the reporters should have asked.
Which is why the anti-GMO movement ridicules, attacks and shuns anyone who questions the bogus studies they rely on to support theiranti-biotech claims.
And this, dear reader, is how the generally unquestioning public gets snookered, time and time again.