February 9, 2017 1:00pm – 2:30pm
School of Natural Resources, Dana 3556
Phil Howard, Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University
Title: Food and Power: How the Largest Firms Shape What We Eat and Drink
Abstract: The largest packaged food and beverage makers constantly run into the limited size of our stomachs in their efforts to increase their power. There is only so much we can physically eat or drink, and only so much that firms can do to reduce their costs as well. Generating profits that outperform the average for other industries therefore requires continually steering our purchases in new directions. This presentation focuses on two key qualitative strategies these firms use to influence consumption patterns and increase their share of food and beverage markets: deskilling and spatial colonization. It explores the application of these strategies more specifically for three products—beer, soymilk and bagged salads—and the enormous energy expended to restrict our eating and drinking habits. It also examines the possibilities for challenging this power.