I’ll be honest, I’ve bought into the idea of fad diets and miracle superfoods. How could I not jump at the chance to change my life with a simple diet change? The notion that perhaps enough lettuce and spinach leaves could tip the scales of life in my favour is addictive. All I need is that one superfood to turn my life around. So as soon as I’ve finished that health documentary, I’m writing a leafy shopping list with a side of lentils.
Jump to the end of the week and my fridge is overflowing with opened, half-eaten and decaying bags of greenery that will inevitably end up the victims of this week’s garbage collection. Meanwhile I’m on the couch, halfway through a packet of biscuits wondering why the scales haven’t changed this week. While I know that weight loss is the result of burning more energy than I consume, I still can’t kick that desire to find an easy way out. Of course it’s this laziness that food shows and health bloggers use to sell “the next big thing.”
While this whole world of fad diets and superfood may seem harmless to me, I’m unaware of the effects it’s having on developing countries. With the Western World’s huge demand of superfoods from remote corners of the planet, fair trade has been thrown out of the window. An article on Small Footprint Family states,
“American entrepreneurs have been making a killing for the past decade selling luxury foods at a premium to people who don’t need them, by paying undernourished peasants in developing countries a miserably low “fair wage” to “carefully” exploit their natural resources.”
Take quinoa for example. For those of you new to the quinoa world here’s a little video on its health benefits and history:
What this video doesn’t mention is that due to high demand of the seed in Western countries, local Bolivians cannot afford to buy quinoa themselves. This is problematic because superfoods are essential for surviving in developing countries. For people living in poverty, simple and cheap foods high in nutrients are a staple. Without these types of foods, locals will begin to become malnourished.
The media is selling us a health ideal that we don’t need, and by doing so is hurting the communities from which these superfoods originate. Our laziness when it comes to health and weightloss may appear innocent, but by buying into the media’s portrayal of miracle foods we are in fact exacerbating the situation. So put down that plate of kale and go eat a regular salad like a normal person!
Flores, P 2015, Quinoa Boom Puts Stress on Bolivian Economics, Environment, Huffington Post, viewed 7 August 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/quinoa-boom-bolivian_n_2724251.html
Small Footprint Family 2015, The Environmental Cost of Superfoods, Small Footprint Family, viewed 7 August 2015, http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/the-environmental-impact-of-imported-superfoods
watchsuperfoods 2012, Quinoa History and Nutrition – Superfoods, online video, 20 October, YouTube, viewed 7 August 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeN48GCvnvw
Ideal Bite 2012, Salad Dress, image, Ideal Bite, viewed 7 August 2015, http://idealbite.com/why-should-i-eat-kale/