Bernie Sanders takes on Big Food.

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"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."

George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday.  Next time you find yourself at a garage sale or a Goodwill store, just remember—there might be a treasure for you to find. A glass vase bought at a Goodwill in Virginia just sold for $107.1k at auction. The vase didn't have a single chip and was made by renowned Italian architect and designer Carlo Scarpa. Moving on to some news nowhere near as surprising as finding a $100K vase at a thrift store—Bernie Sanders is going after big corporations again, but this time it’s Big Food in the crosshairs. Let’s dive in.

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Bernie Vs. Big Food

2024 is right around the corner, and it wouldn’t quite be an election year without a little Bernie Sanders. Sanders is no stranger to taking on corporate interests, and recently, he’s directed his attention toward the food and beverage industry. In particular, Sanders is concerned about Big Food’s role in America’s growing diabetes crisis. 

Sanders, as chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), a committee typically preoccupied with issues like healthcare and drug pricing, has shifted focus to address the impact of diet on public health. 

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During a recent HELP committee hearing, Sanders vehemently criticized the food and beverage sectors for their marketing strategies, particularly towards children, linking them to the rising cases of type 2 diabetes. He pointed out how children in America are predominantly consuming unhealthy, ultra-processed foods, which significantly contribute to the risk of this disease. 

Sanders’ approach to this issue is not something we’ve really seen in the political arena, where diet-related diseases don’t often receive substantial attention. 

Sanders’ perspective was also echoed in a USA Today op-ed, where he suggested banning junk-food marketing targeted at children. Yes, Bernie! Yes! 

In response to Sanders’ claims, industry representatives, including the Consumer Brands Association and the American Beverage Association, have highlighted their existing efforts to adapt. Big Food claims they’ve already shifted towards offering consumers more choices with less sugar and clear calorie information. The American Beverage Association specifically pointed to a significant decrease in sugar content in beverages, with almost 60% of all beverages sold now being sugar-free.

But is that really enough? 

We are loving Sanders’ sudden interest in food policy, especially given his relative silence on diet-related diseases in the past, but the sudden pivot is intriguing. Some speculate that the growing media focus on obesity and diabetes treatments, including expensive weight-loss drugs, might have drawn Sanders’ attention to the broader issues of diet and public health. Whatever it is, we aren’t mad about it!  

The key takeaway? Bernie Sanders’ recent scrutiny of the food and beverage industry reflects a growing concern about the connection between diet and chronic diseases like diabetes. It marks a notable shift in the political discourse around health, nutrition, and corporate responsibility in the United States, and as the kids say—we are here for it! 

Only time will tell how this renewed focus will influence policy and public health outcomes, but at least we are having the conversation about it now!  

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