Coca-Cola, Froot Loops, Ethanol Subsidies Among "Terrible Ten" Things Impairing Americans' Diets, Health, and Environment

"Terrific 10" and "Terrible 10" Lists Symbolize Hopes and Concerns of Food Day


Organizers of Food Day have named the “Terrible Ten” factors impairing Americans’ diets, health, and environment and that exemplify much of what the grassroots movement is trying to address when it culminates on October 24. In no special order, some of the Terrible 10 include:

• Coca-Cola, the most aggressively promoted and widely consumed brand of sugar-loaded “liquid candy” in the world, has contributed mightily to the obesity epidemic. Each can of Coke contains 9 teaspoons of sugar.

• Froot Loops, a fruit-less sugary cereal gussied up with synthetic dyes, is one of a host of junk foods marketed heavily to kids. Kellogg is one of many companies seeking to kill federal voluntary nutrition standards intended to promote children’s health.

• Subsidies to companies that blend corn ethanol into gasoline, coupled with a mandate to market billions of gallons of that gasoline annually, cost taxpayers $6 billion a year. Using corn for fuel leads to higher prices for corn and foods with corn ingredients—all for a program without significant environmental benefit.

• White flour—used in bread, pizza crusts, pasta, doughnuts, cakes, burritos, cookies, and dozens of other foods—has spurred the obesity epidemic by adding evermore vitamin-depleted, fiber-poor calories the diet.

“This collection of terribles symbolizes some of the things that Food Day is trying to change,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit organization that is coordinating Food Day. “It’s time to encourage Americans to ‘eat real,’ which means ‘out’ with the Froot Loops and ‘in’ with real fruit. It means more food from farmers markets—and much less food, if any, from fast-food drive- throughs and vending machines.”

Food Day is a celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably grown food. More than 1,500 events are planned from coast-to-coast in homes, schools, universities, parks, and even in Times Square. So Food Day organizers have paired their Terrible Ten list with a Terrific Ten list of things that are worth celebrating, including (again, in no particular order):

• Water—humankind’s standard beverage for millennia—from the tap or filtered, carbonated or not, is a far better choice than soda and other sugary drinks.

• Traditional Mediterranean and Asian diets that are heavy on vegetables and fruit and light on meat and cheese are delicious and reduce the risk of heart disease and other maladies. Plant-based foods are also easier on the environment than animal products.

• Sustainable and organically grown foods build healthy soil and minimize harm to farmers, the environment, and consumers from dangerous pesticides, excess fertilizer, antibiotics in animal feed, and unsafe synthetic food additives.

• The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has challenged—and improved—the inhumane working conditions endured by many Florida farmworkers, showing that persistent, aggressive action can stop injustices.

Food Day is led by honorary co-chairs Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and an advisory board that includes author Michael Pollan; prominent physicians Caldwell Esselstyn and Michael Roizen; former Surgeon General David Satcher; nutrition authorities Walter Willett, Kelly Brownell, and Marion Nestle; filmmaker Morgan Spurlock; and Rodale, Inc. CEO Maria Rodale. The Terrible Ten and Terrific Ten lists do not necessarily reflect the views of members of the Food Day advisory board or local food Day coordinators and participants.

National organizations participating in Food Day include the American Dietetic Association, American Public Health Association, Community Food Security Coalition, Earth Day Network, Farmers Market Coalition, Humane Society of the United States, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Prevention Institute, and Slow Food USA, along with many city- and state-level organizations.

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