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Food's Glorious Future: Snackified Drinks, Drinkified Snacks

Snackified drinks and drinkified snacks: that is the future of food and it will be good for us, says PepsiCo, the largest producer of food and beverages in the United States. PepsiCo is training for the perfect split: give people what they want and are used to, snacks and drinks that taste of sugar, fat, and salt, but sneak in what they don't get enough of, namely protein and especially fiber.

In a recent article in the New Yorker titled Snacks for a Fat Planet Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, talks of "this new convergence area coming up" which according to her is going to be "a glorious area." She promises that our children - apparently refuseniks of the first order when it comes to eating healthy food - will drink carrots though they wouldn't eat them; they will suck minestrone and "oatmeal with a little bit of fruit" out of single serve pouches; they will be happy and healthy.

Hm. I am doubtful. First, I hope that the "new convergence area" will be just that, an area rather than an era (I fear the latter may be true). Second, is the future Nooyi predicts really so glorious? To me it sounds horrible. Take the above mentioned oatmeal: in my mind I see a bowl of oats with walnuts, some milk, and blueberries (glorious!), something my young daughter will happily eat. Do we need our protein with fiber and fruit liquefied? No. Do we need to be sucking it out of a plastic pouch? Not as long as we can chew.

Nooyi's enthusiasm for processing food ever further is professional, for sure, but her belief that people will be happy with PepsiCo's "new convergence area" is also very New Worldish. Americans think that we can improve anything by adding technology and science; they embrace the new, trust that change is generally for the better. My mind set is more European. I am grateful for inventions such as the internet and the smart phone but I am also a sceptic, a cynic at times. As such I beg you: please don't touch my food!

Comments

Sarah O said…
Oh, say it ain't so! This is a most disturbing proposition! I'm with you 100% Christina - let's keep our kids eating their yummy bowls of oatmeal. Slurping it out of a plastic pouch wounds like a disaster for the health of the individual AND the planet!
Mark said…
Hi Christina,

Maybe the Pepsi CEO imagines us all living on Mars sucking on Astronaut food pouches?

I never trusted big corporations with my food, especially after watching "Food Inc." Reese & I have been progressively cooking at home more and more, and buying less processed foods. I'm sure it tastes much better than Pepsi's lasagna in a plastic bottle or whatever they think up.

I have hope for the "next generation" too. With the surge in food blogs, led by younger people's interest in cooking with fresh ingredients, Pepsi would be mistaken to invest too much in liquid food.

Thanks,

Mark
Thank you Sarah and Mark. You gave me food for thought. Since you are both American (at least I think so) your comments remind me that generalizations are problematic, to say the least: you are obviously not in the category of those "who think that we can improve anything by adding technology and science". Good for you. Sorry for the lapse.

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