Food and personal finance are similar (part 2)
January 29th, 2007 - 13 Comments
Earlier this month, I wrote how food and personal finance are similar. Now check out a few excerpts from yesterday’s New York Times Magazine article on nutrition, which also has lots of parallels to money:
Humans deciding what to eat without expert help — something they have been doing with notable success since coming down out of the trees — is seriously unprofitable if you’re a food company, distinctly risky if you’re a nutritionist and just plain boring if you’re a newspaper editor or journalist. (Or, for that matter, an eater. Who wants to hear, yet again, “Eat more fruits and vegetables”?) And so, like a large gray fog, a great Conspiracy of Confusion has gathered around the simplest questions of nutrition — much to the advantage of everybody involved. Except perhaps the ostensible beneficiary of all this nutritional expertise and advice: us, and our health and happiness as eaters.
The whole “expert” industry of pundits and personal-finance magazines sells products, not wisdom. See Dumb: Don’t Invest; You Can’t Beat the Pros.
Naïvely putting two and two together, the committee drafted a straightforward set of dietary guidelines calling on Americans to cut down on red meat and dairy products. Within weeks a firestorm, emanating from the red-meat and dairy industries, engulfed the committee, and Senator McGovern (who had a great many cattle ranchers among his South Dakota constituents) was forced to beat a retreat. The committee’s recommendations were hastily rewritten. Plain talk about food — the committee had advised Americans to actually “reduce consumption of meat” — was replaced by artful compromise: “Choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated-fat intake.”
(Reminded me of How mutual funds make tons of money for themselves, not you)
A subtle change in emphasis, you might say, but a world of difference just the same. First, the stark message to “eat less” of a particular food has been deep-sixed; don’t look for it ever again in any official U.S. dietary pronouncement…“Eat less” is the most unwelcome advice of all, but in fact the scientific case for eating a lot less than we currently do is compelling.
Sort of how like you rarely hear financial “experts” recommending the most time-proven strategies of all: Live beneath your means, save aggressively, invest early, and continue learning about money. It’s just not sexy, is it?
The full New York Times article: Unhappy Meals.
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