Mocha Express
Thought provoking commentary on
Business, Technology, Organizations, and Organizational Dynamics
to clarify my thinking and engage in intelligent conversation.
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2.10 Trying To Help While Still Selling Corn or
How Our Tools Channel Our Thinking

February 27, 2008

A recent article in the Washington Post

looks at a new "tool", FoodFlex, from Safeway that allows consumers access to the information collected by their discount card and provides some analysis tools for the foods purchased.
Safeway has "a very large emphasis on health and wellness and giving consumers more tools to make more choices," according Safeway Vice President Kevin Herglotz in the article.

The FoodFlex Tool Giving Simplistic Answers

A couple of things immediately "jump out".

First, here is a lot of personal information that Safeway is not only collecting and using for marketing purposes, but now it will be available on the web! The complete list of what you purchase at Safeway may not seem like a critical item but I am sure ne'er do wells will be able to a) get access to it and b) use it for less than desirable purposes.

An example of how the information could be miss used is simply to assist in "social engineering". If someone knows *exactly* what people have been buying/eating, it allows them to have "credentialed conversations" with the people.

Imagine striking up a conversation with someone who, interestingly, has the same eating habits and common sundry product habits as you. It makes the conversation more comfortable that the chances of sharing other information is much higher.

Second, the article covers an analysis of a meal being prepared. In the analysis, the FoodFlex program basically didn't care about the quality of foods, just the raw "nutrition" numbers that are being show to be about 10% of the picture.

For example, the silly program equated natural, whole foods like "walnuts" and "real crab" with genuine, imitation, industrial "alfredo sauce" which undoubtedly is very high in good old #2 corn with it's damaged LDL and very likely lots of transfats that cause heart disease.

Third, the author of the story was very concerned in selecting ricotta cheese: regular, low fat, no fat?
What she didn't investigate is how much "#2 corn", "dried milk" (which is evidence is showing may be a problem with damaged LDL), and random hormones (from the stressed and drugged cows) was in the cheese. Rather than looking for "real cheese", she got side tracked on the "fat vs non-fat" independent of quality of those fats.

Bottom Line: the Tool Helps Sell The High Margin "Industrial" Foods

Safeway is in the business of "making money selling food". If you think it is looking out for your best interest, it is... as long as it doesn't adversely impact the "bottom line".

I would suggest that the author of the article (and Safeway :-) read Pollan's book: "Omnivore's Dilemma" and Planc's "Real Food" for enlightenment

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2.11   The Game is Rigged:Attacking with Speculative Analysis
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9   Ice Age Survival
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