Food: education or infantilization?

After “five fruits and vegetables a day”, “eat and exercise” and other commands that urge us, even if it means contradicting each other, to “eat healthy”, the time has come already in food logos, organic anti-cancer and applications. mobiles scanning the shelves of our supermarkets. There are so many innovations that are likely to suck the consumer out by removing him or her from responsibility, to the detriment of a real food education that knows how to balance between happiness and health.

In detentions, barricade actions and other conflicting orders, it is thought that the health crisis is pushing state paternalism to its peak. You may want this one to interfere, from now on, even with our plates. In early June, nearly fifty parliamentarians, led by Modem MP Richard Ramos, signed a column in the Journal du Dimanche calling for the upcoming “food check” promised by Emmanuel Macron as a target, as a priority, healthy and valued “non -carcinogenic” products. “We should not facilitate access to a food that causes cancer, especially nitrite salt in charcuterie or in ultra-processed products”, plunged the next day, Richard Ramos on the airwaves of France Info- the deputy, candidate for re-election.

Organic has a good back

Commendable in principle, the intent of the signatories to this forum instead reflects a kind of hysteria that is slowly gripping our political leaders over what their fellow citizens choose to put on their plates.

If the negative consequences of certain human health products are, fortunately, no longer debated, the contemporary obsession with “healthy eating” is likely to come against its limitations and contradictions. So, despite the obvious evidence that eating organic can be better for your health and the planet, no cause and effect relationship is, so far, scientifically established between life expectancy and consumption only of processed food. according to organic principles. farming.

And for good reason. If many studies have shown that organic consumers are, in general, in better health than others, it is because they have always adopted a whole series of behaviors that go beyond the simple fact. to choose pesticide -free products: more sporty, little or nothing. alcohol, low-fat and ultra-processed products, lots of fruits and vegetables, and so on.

Similarly, and contrary to what was known in one of the arguments put forward on the Modem platform by the representatives, “the fundamental link between organic food and cancer cannot be proven and care must be taken”, it was noted. the National Academy’s very serious medicine in 2018. So beware of simplistic, whether moralistic or even electoralist reasoning: yes, eating well is necessary, but health is a general, a holistic balance that cannot be reduced to in some marketing recipes and child slogans.

“Crust Code”

This infantilization of consumers is also working the way – also commendable in principle – at Nutriscore, this food labeling system that, over the years, has consistently imposed itself on more and more products. Classifying the products of our supermarkets from A to E, the logo distributes, according to the ethics of remaining opaque and in any case not known to the general public, the good and bad points: products that are considered too fat or sweet – such as cheese or olive oil – take a D or E, if those judged “healthy” by the Nutriscore algorithm proudly display an A or B – which is, by contrast, the case of light sodas or even some recipes from fast food giants.

A grading system that, in addition to presenting the broad loopholes in which agro-food multinationals are rushing, is reminiscent of what the school has implemented and which, separating the good from the bad students, has contributed to child rearing, even to make. he felt guilty, if the latter had not learned more about what should or should not be eaten.

In other words, by betting on morality and not on education, by betting on an abstract distinction between “good” and “bad” instead of scientifically proven effectiveness, and by giving privilege to one command of intelligence and responsibility, Nutriscore is in danger of losing its target. And to be a form of “coding the crust”, to use the tasty expression of former starred chef Arnaud Daguin, according to whom “educating is not management without nuance like a traffic police has whistle and kepi. (…) To educate is to guide another, to guide him in a cultural way that enables him to make independent and enlightened decisions ”.“ We must teach our children (.. .) why Roquefort is better than Coke Zero, even if Nutriscore says the opposite ”, the chef wrote again in a column published in Liberation, in which he dismissed the“ futility of the idea of long. -term diet “and food injunctions by definition very generally adaptable to all. The solution?” Simply passing (…) our knowledge and knowledge of how to save us from this rut ​​” , for Arnaud Daguin: “happiness coupled with understanding, there is a way. (…) If we just follow the code, we will go straight to the wall ”. On reflection, around a good cheese – patience, a bad “food” D or E.

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