I was reading an article about P.R. companies recruiting "mommy bloggers" to shill for big food, something I have encountered personally. Through this blog and through my more mainstream food writing I've had plenty of contact with Public Relations professionals. I was at dinner with some this week and I was thinking how lucky they are to work for a company that is very selective in taking on clients. That doesn't force them to grin and bear it as they promote sub-standard food.
They are lucky. Because ultimately many people in that field are limited in their choices. Like most of us, their ability to afford the basic neccessities of life is tied to their work. The ones that promote big food or bad restaurants or mediocre products don't neccessarily feel good about it. I've talked to people who left these jobs and it was very hard and many of them are freelance now, which is often a very difficult gig. They were lucky to be largely young and without a family so able to say "screw it, I'm going to be on my own and promote things I feel good about." They didn't have to worry about potentially having no place to live or no health insurance for their children. Sure, "get another job" sounds great, but it's harder than some people imagine to switch industries. P.R. is the tip of the iceberg here. These "big food" companies employ a substantial amount of people directly and indirectly.
Almost all the things I care about are a luxury I can care about because I am lucky. Because I have a job in a totally unrelated field with more than a decent income. I can say I only eat this or that, enabled by my income to actually make that choice. I can say I dislike companies like large fast food corporations because I don't have to rely on them to pay my rent or heating bill. I can forego certain foods because I can afford the substitutes.
I always try to remember that these days. That's why lately I'm more interested in re-funding programs like SNAP (food stamps) or basic income than convincing individual consumers that they should make different choices, because often these choices are just an illusion. And you'll discover Big Food is one of the biggest voices in pretending people have more choices than they actually do.