Food Product of the Week: POM Wonderful Magic Juice
Neysa from Dissertation To Dirt writes a series about the edible atrocities available on our grocery store shelves. She has been kind enough to let us re-post them here. Enjoy – and try not to hurl.
Maybe you’ve seen the commercial: an Adonic guy in a costume from the movie 300 walks through the desert. The deep-voiced narrator explains: In Persian mythology, warriors ate pomegranates before battle, believing they would be rewarded with invincibility and bodies as solid as bronze. And only POM Wonderful has the juice of four whole pomegranates, and is backed by modern science.
Ooooooh, “science”! It suits me because I make most of my decisions based on obscure facts from ancient Persian mythology. Last Friday I built a bird bath for Huma, the invisible bird of paradise that eternally flies above the earth and never comes to rest.
Perhaps not surprisingly, this pomegranate juice from concentrate that is almost a caricature of itself is also leading the pack in a battle with the FTC for making crazy health claims.
Pom Wonderful exhibits a fairly common food product advertising angle: magic food. And better yet, magic food unlocked by science. It’s the perfect interplay of our awe of nature and our confidence in modern technology that makes ads like these work. Given that the average person is so disconnected from food, it becomes easy to assign food items mythological characteristics. How do I know a pomegranate won’t give me perfect health? Heck, how does a pomegranate even grow? (Maybe they just rain down from heaven?)
Growing my own food through the seasons has shown me that nature is tangible and logical. There is a delightful predictability to food and farming. Nature is generous, but for the most part, you get out what you put in. As more people begin growing their own fruits and vegetables, or connecting with those that do, I think we’ll become less inclined to see magic in our food. And it will only be advertising like this that is unbelievable.