Subtraction, not Addition

25 04 2007

By Derek Beres

Sodas fortified with vitamins. Oil companies that are replenishing the lands and waters they have destroyed. Yoga on Military Island, the triangular “park” in the middle of Times Square. And this wonderful ad on the inside flap of this week’s New Yorker, about how Dow Chemicals is promoting the “Human Element.” What has become clear is not about what you are producing, but what you are layering onto the top to make it seem pretty.

This is the thought as I read TrendCentral’s recent newsletter about “Healthy Food.” The snippets on the anti-corn syrup movement and – especially pleasing to my palate – the hemp milk trend were enjoyable. It’s the middle entry, on “Healing Foods,” that made me chuckle. In the piece the newsletter states, “we’re beginning to see food and drink emerge as alternatives to taking medicine.” Thanks for the breakthrough news.

What they should have written would have been more along the lines of: we are seeing major corporations realize that people are understanding the products that they pass off as “food products” are not selling so hotly. What is selling is what will always attract attention, and hence you have beverage companies adding echinacea and acai into their mix. Only problem is, they are not removing what was harmful in the first place, be it corn syrup, oil drills or mass ammunitions.

There’s a stretch of the NJ Turnpike I always laugh at while passing. I understand why people view New Jersey as a wasteland, if their exposure is the region between Newark and Perth Amboy, roughly exits 14C to 11. There’s one particularly disastrous facility that’s pumping flames and black smoke into the skyline 24/7 – has been since I’ve driven the route since ’93, and probably a lot longer prior. The billboard facing the Turnpike states “Environmentally Advanced. Energy Efficient.”

What we need is to subtract, not add. Putting a band-aid over cancer is not going to help the disease. Yet advertisers are doing that with their claims of Greening the environment. This is not a critique to the companies that have been founded on sustainable, progressive ideals, whether they were started four decades ago or four minutes past. It is irresponsible of large-scale corporations that were the root of our current dismay to now try to good guy by throwing in an additive or two. Their additives are what sent us on this spiraling path, and their continual marketing ploys, now in the realm of the sustainable and organic, is completely and utterly embarrassing.

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