Knowing the politics of soda

Knowing the politics of soda

For a cause

When an ad campaign like Thanda matlab Coca-Cola can make a hot catchphrase and replace thanda drinks with Coca-Cola, and Pepsi’s Ye pyaas hai badi and Pepsi thi pi gaya ads can convince one to drink carbonated beverages whenever thirsty, we know that “the language” of soda is quite influential.

Celebrity faces like Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan proudly encourage the consumption of these carbonated drinks, despite its contribution to poor dental hygiene, higher calorie intake and obesity.

As part of the sixth Indian Languages Festival, ‘Samanvay’, veterans like Sunita Narain, food critic Sourish Bhattacharya and journalist Satya Sivaraman came together to discuss the ‘aspirational’ language of soft drinks and the ways to curb its consumption among children and adults.

“With the kind of advertisements and jingles that have been made for soda, I think it is pure entertainment, and it is the language of entertainment that surrounds the product,” said Sivaraman, adding that we live in a world where human society gets influenced and addicted by it.

Mentioning how sugar intake has globally gone up by three times, Sivaraman says that we are invaded by things that are not good for us.

Elaborating on this concept is Marion Nestle’s book Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (And Winning). The book, says Narain, explains how right words have been used to sell a certain kind of lifestyle.

“From a good academic perspective, very little has been written on how we, as a society, are changing our food cultures. It started in the 70s, when television started entering households and when feminism was taking its roots. Packaged food slowly started invading the market and cooking at home became lesser. In the course of this, subjects like Home Science and Home Economics are now being demolished. Bollywood actors campaigning for soda and packaged food which further glamourises it. And this has dumbed the consumers ” said Narain, director general, Centre for Science and Environment.

However, amidst the whole battle of languages, there is a need to create an alternative language, where people are rigorously informed about right consumption.

“We need to now set things right and creating an alternative language. And I see this happening in food establishments. I see a lot of bar tenders and chefs talking about alternative food cultures, which is very important. It’s the time to now write about the same and spread the word,” quipped Bhattacharya.

But how will the cause reach masses? While discussions and talks around the art and science of eating right take place regularly, it is only advertisements that reach the maximum population.

“It is only be going through ‘elites’ like us, attending such discussions, that more and more people are going to know about soda and its politics. We have to be trendsetters for this cause,” Narain told Metrolife.
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