Food media can be presented in numerous forms, making it ever so important to understand how to decipher the purpose behind the media you are being presented with. I have identified three purposes of food media, all of which have different motives and end results for the viewer. Identifying the form of a message allows you to decode and act upon the content in an efficient and effective method.
Informative Food Media. These forms of media present information in a way meant to educate and inform people of a concept, method, item, etc. Shows such as PBS’ “Food Forward” educate viewers on sustainable food options. Informative media’s purpose is not necessarily to sell something, but rather make the viewer a more knowledgeable consumer.
Entertaining food media. This media offers exciting and drama filled interactions where food serves as a prop more than a focus. These fast pace cook-offs are much like other television challenge shows, but with the setting is in the kitchen. These forms of media don’t attempt to sell or inform, but rather occupy viewer’s time and keep them hooked.
Persuasive media. These forms of media intend to sway the viewer’s attention towards a specific product or brand. Comparing this product to other competitors items, creating a “cool” image for the product, and idealizing the item you see are all ways in which producers attempt to gain your support. This form of media is how producers create consumers and how brands create loyal customers
Although all these different forms exist and provide different purposes, at the end of the day it is still the viewer’s responsibility to act as they feel necessary on the message presented. If viewers have the desire to act on the media without considering the end result than that is their own fault. Companies exist to make a profit, if their persuasive media techniques convince people to act on their product, than they have successfully sold their good. This is extremely relevant to the ongoing debate on child obesity. In the article “Childhood Obesity, Junk Food, TV: Who’s Responsible?” Richard Zwolinski discusses a debate occurring in Australia on whether or not to ban junk-food advertising on television. Our societies ever-growing reliance on technology and television has disintegrated our ability to make reasonable and responsible decisions on our own, and has instead lead people to act on the face value of what they see. Weight-loss author Michelle Bridge in “Is Junk Food Child Abuse” says “So if we know that parental responsibility for a child’s weight starts even before conception, how can we justify the notion that their responsibility is in any way diminished during a child’s early life?” I believe that regardless of what attractive images companies are presenting to the youth, the decision on whether or not to act on that product still lies in the parental figures hands. The money to buy junk food surely isn’t coming on a regular basis from the child consumer, but is instead provided by the parental figure. If you don’t want your children being unhealthy, don’t buy them unhealthy products. I stand by Michelle’s stance on the topic. For every piece of persuasive media that exists, an informative one is there to counter that same message.
Making wise decisions on food requires an educated consumer that can look past the allure that persuasive media portrays.