Politicians and social media moguls have been ranting about the newly recognized phenomenon of fake news. My response: “Welcome to my world.” Fake nutrition news has been around for decades. It can be completely fake, with zero evidence, such as ‘gluten causes weight gain’. Or it can be a sneaky innuendo that relies on false assumptions about health benefits. Confused? Here’s one Perfect Example: my new can of Bumble Bee tuna. Check out the top of the can in the photo.
Let’s see, what tuna isn’t wild caught? According to my reading, tuna farming is experimental right now and only accounts for 1/10th of a percent of tuna consumption. As yet hatching tuna eggs and growing tuna larvae for fish farming is experimental and riddled with problems. Currently “farmed” tuna is first caught wild, and then penned up. So “Wild Caught!” sure sounds all warm and fuzzy, but it’s essentially meaningless when it comes to the canned tuna in our grocery stores. It’s a true statement that leads to a fake conclusion: (1) some canned tuna is farmed and (2) wild tuna is better. Certainly not better for the tuna. It’s being overfished to oblivion.
Umm, ok, let’s go back to the paragraph above. If tuna is wild, that means it was hatched in the ocean and grew on its own, swimming around (at speeds of 45 mph), eating smaller fish. Wherever would GMO come in to this picture? Nowhere, that’s where. Another “true” statement that leads to two fake conclusions: (1) that there’s tuna out there that is GMO and (2) GMO equals bad. Just last spring, 107 Nobel laureates signed a letter to Greenpeace, denouncing the activist organization’s unscientific and hysterical campaign against GMO food technology.
Made with Sea Salt!
And so what? Sea salt is salt. It’s not lower sodium, it doesn’t taste different. But again, a “true” statement leading to a fake conclusion: sea salt is healthy for some reason, or perhaps morally superior. Next they’ll be labeling the sea salt Non-GMO.
Actually it wasn’t this annoying tuna can that got me going on this issue of fake nutrition news. It was a gushy radio ad for Centrum Silver multiple vitamin. “Ooooo” says the woman speaker. “Centrum Silver is Gluten-free! And certified Non-GMO.” Here again we have a truthy sort of claim that relies on consumer confusion to create a health halo of superiority. Is a gluten-free and non-GMO supplement superior? Just on principle, I personally will never, ever recommend Centrum products to anyone, thanks to this insulting marketing scheme.
So you get the gist here. All it takes to market food products to unsuspecting health-conscious consumers is to tout health benefits. Gluten-free is currently our most infamous example. And a laughable example when companies push broccoli or corn oil or bags of sugar with Gluten-Free! tags. It’s not a fake statement, but it surely leads to a fake conclusion. In fact a lot of the fake political news works the same way: the main stream media can twist anything into propaganda that suits its agenda, and food marketers can twist nutrition information into fake health halos to sell stuff.