Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Feasting on Coupons

Wood pulp and ink are not on my food plan. I cannot find the nutritional information for newsprint so I don't eat it. I felt the need to tell you that because I have seen ads that make a product so enticing I find myself caressing the photo and wishing I could lick the paper and get a taste of what they are selling. Wouldn't that be gross? 

I get a daily newspaper delivered to my home. Wednesdays are food advertisement day and Sundays are usually the day for massive coupon inserts. I clip the coupons for hair color, detergent and tissues. I might clip out a Splenda coupon. I rarely see a coupon for unprocessed foods. When they do appear it is usually something like "get a free carrot with purchase of  bleu cheese dressing. . . " Getting a fat-rich salad dressing is not how I get my vegetables. I have several rules around which I approach coupons. I apply the same rules with which I approach real food.

  • I do not go through them when I am hungry
  • I do not go through them when I am angry
  • I do not go through them when I am lonely
  • I do not go through them when I am tired
  • If the food isn't whole + natural: approach with caution

When I am hungry, products I would not want in my house suddenly appear to sound promising. Speaking of promise, ads for Promise margarine - what they insist on calling 'buttery spread' that have made me wish to spread some on a piece of toast. I don't use margarine, period. I don't have a toaster. So really, why should the ad pull me in like that? Because that is was the manufacturers pay their advertising agencies to do: find ways to play in the mind of the unsuspecting consumer. Advertising talks people into desiring things they don't want and buying things they don't need.

Michael Prager, author of Fat Boy, Thin Man, wrote on his blog last week: 
Industry, in pursuit of capitalism, has hijacked not only our biology but our memories by putting refined sugar into practically everything: cereal, salad dressing, processed meat, bread, and condiments, never mind cookies, candy, ice cream, and cake.
I am always getting on my soapbox about this subject, if only because so many people are totally unaware of what has happened to food in their lifetime. I know in my own lifetime it is mutated into something my great-grandparents would not recognize as food. Wondering where am I going with this? 

This past week there was an ad in the paper for Philadelphia brand chocolate cream cheese. Just so we are clear - there are three different kinds of chocolate cream cheese. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate. The ad shows that you can glob this stuff on to a piece of apple a whole cashew, a small pretzel, a single cracker, a strawberry or a potato chip. In the case of the nut, cracker, pretzel and potato chip the Philadelphia company is encouraging that mix of salty-sweet-creamy-crunchy I wrote about in Weird but Tasty. In the case of the apple and the strawberry they are suggesting that fruit by itself is unworthy of your taste buds. By the way, Philadelphia cream cheese now makes a flavored cream cheese sauce for adding to rice, noodles, pastas, vegetables and meats. Cream cheese: its not just for  breakfast anymore - it can clog your arteries at dinner, too! 

I don't eat sugar or milk fat so I have no use for this coupon or this product but I was fascinated enough with the ad to allow the memory patterns in my tongue to anticipate the taste and texture of Philly cream cheese mixed with chocolate. Forget the chips and berries, just give me a spoon. Before I could stop myself I had a vision of going to the Publix Supermarket and pulling two of the three chocolate cream cheese flavors out of the refrigerated case and into my basket. Then I pictured me coming home and digging a spoon into one and then the other. 

Let's remember what I just said: I don't eat either cream cheese or sugar. That still didn't stop me from forming the thought of 'I'll try it cause it's new. . .' See how easy it is for the insane thought to enter the addicts mind? Even with years of practice in healthy behaviors my addict mind still went to the food thoughts. Gratefully I returned to my reality and accepted that I cannot live free of the obsession to overeat if I pick up my 'alcoholic' foods.

I am lucky to be aware and willing to stand by what I need to do for my body and mind. What about the person who is struggling? What about the people who are honestly hoping to save a money with coupons, unaware that they are simply the tip of a hell mouth. Food coupons are not designed to save us money. The industry is not trying to save our pennies. Coupons are offered to encourage us to buy a product. Buy, eat and repeat.

Can you name the last time you saw a coupon for a whole food, without another product attached to the purchase? 



Melanie said...

oh, how that chocolate cream cheese coupon taunted me this weekend. I had to quickly turn the page.

As for coupons for whole food, there don't appear to be any in the Sunday inserts. However, I shop at Kroger quite a bit and receive coupons in the mail from them. I do occasionally receive coupons for the meat department and the produce department.

Norma said...

There was a woman giving out samples of that at the supermarket a few weeks ago. I declined; the boyfriend accepted. He had a little cracker or spread with the milk chocolate variety and declared it "like an angel pooped on toast!" Of course, such products do not grace our home; there is no cream cheese of any sort here because there are no bagels either. ;-) I used to be a rabid coupon clipper back when I ate cereal, Hamburger Helper, microwave popcorn, juice and hot dogs. Now I flip through the insert quickly to see if there are coupons for fish (canned tuna/salmon/sardines) and that's about it. Maybe some day there'll be coupons for avocados and ground flaxseed... ;-)

Kelliann said...

I find coupons to be mostly for the fat and sugar laden junk. It's dissapointing. I have watched those coupon-crazy shopper shows once or twice... oh yes, it IS amazing that you can spend a mere 10 dollars on a basket full of candy, no-actual-fruit juice, crackers, and frozen pizza. Stellar.
I have not seen this product in stores. I am both happy and sad that I know it exists - because now I know to stay away from that section! It is my food/sugar addicts dream/nightmare.

Over 40? - So What! said...

Like you, I haven't had a taste of cream cheese in a very long time, but I still can almost taste it when I see ads like this. Imagination can be just as satisfying as eating, and a heck of a lot less calories.

Sarah said...

I have sometimes had Nectar coupons for fresh produce - this is a points card you use in the supermarket and the till prints vouchers out for you randomly when you use the card. I got one for a fresh growing basil plant once and I think I've had spend £10 on veg and get £5 off or something. Basically they know what you buy and try to persuade you to buy more of it.

Vickie said...

my husband does the coupon clipping. He pretty much knows what I buy and rarely has to ask me a question. I stay 100% away from commercials of any kind.

RedPanda said...

I still don't get that "salty-sweet-creamy-crunchy" thing, and I don't want to try it.

We don't have food coupons in Australia, but we do have full colour brochures that arrive in the mail advertising this week's supermarket specials. I always wonder how much they cost to print and distribute - clearly, they are cost-effective or the supermarkets wouldn't keep publishing them.

Ditto the billboard I saw recently at the bus stop. Of about 30 discounted supermarket products, I would only buy three, and they were all non-food items (toothpaste, tissues and laundry detergent).

Lisa said...

I used to be a coupon QUEEN!!! And i saved so much with it. But ever since I started eating real food and not processed foods, I don't use any coupons.

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