Friday, February 24, 2012

Magical Thinking about Food

This appeared in an ad insert for Hy-Vee (a grocery-store chain, if you didn't know) bundled in with the Kansas City Star on Wednesday; the text says "Kiwi fruit is a 'good sweeper' that assists to sweep off the unwanted substances and toxins out of your body. Kiwi also has a perfect NuVal score."

What I thought was weird about the ad copy was this idea that some foods have this incredible power to remove "toxins" from your body. It's not that I'd never seen that before, but previously I'd only ever seen it in contexts much fringier than an advertisement for a supermarket chain.

I have other thoughts about this odd and superstitious notion --- for one, I suspect that the fear it speaks to, the fear of things getting into one's body without one's knowledge and doing horrible things once they're in there, is very old --- but they're not in order and I haven't done any research yet, so I will wait and deal with them in another post. For now, I'm just going to point out this apparent crossover of an idea common in New Age circles into the mainstream.


Lorraine said...

I am so bored out of my gourd of the nutripseudocals fad.

Lindsay said...

@Lorraine - it actually amuses me to no end, because my biochemistry training allows me to see the vast differences between what a given food *actually* does and what some stupid article *says* it can do.

Reading such hyperbolic claims about such mundane things gives me gigglefits.

But I can see why other people would be irritated by it, or wish the trend would go away. That's how I feel about anti-vaccine fearmongering, for instance.

(Also, I am glad to see you commenting here! I love your economic vision, even though I often do not comment on your blog because I frequently do not understand your posts. But those I do understand, I like very much.)