Ever been bullied about your food choices? Most of us have, writes MSU alumna in new book

Nov 13, 2019

“Food has become a battleground where marketing labels and misinformation are used to bully and demonize people about their eating choices. What if you could stop stressing about what other people think and make eating decisions based on your own needs and preferences?,” asks the author of  Food Bullying: How to Avoid Buying B.S. and Spartan alumna, Michele Payn


In a recent MSU Today interview, Payn, a nationally recognized writer and speaker, explains that the new book (her third) is an attempt to first help people recognize food bullies, understand their motivation and then develop a personal plan to overcome the bullying. These steps will both simplify safe food choices and even save some time in the grocery store.

Credit causematters.com

“Food Bullying came about as a result of the work I've done for the last two decades trying to better connect food producers and consumers,” Payn says. “For the last few years, I've seen the increase in what I consider to be psychological manipulation around food.

“The more I thought about it, the more I decided that I really needed to try and help people understand that food bullying has become a phenomenon. It is affecting most of us every time we make an eating choice, whether it's in the grocery store, the restaurant or at the local farm market.”

For Payn, food bullies use guilt and shame to advance their interests—interests often associated with marketing.

“Have you been made to feel guilty about the food you've chosen for your family? If you can say yes, or if you've been shamed about bringing the wrong brand to school, or if your child unfortunately has been shamed about eating the wrong food, then you've been bullied.”

Some examples of bogus marketing claims about food include such slogans as ethically raised, all natural, clean, and farm raised. “The reality is if they are not measurable and meaningful, which by my standards means that they have to be evaluated at a federal level by FDA, USDA, or EPA in some cases, [the claims] are nothing more than marketing tactics. They're B.S., bull speak. When somebody says their food is more ethically raised than my food, I always want to say, ‘Why?’"

Credit Russ White | MSU Today

Armed with science, compelling personal stories, and a lifetime on the farm, Payn challenges the way we think about food. She also provides strategies we can use to make guilt-free food choices based on our own “social, ethical, environmental and health standards rather than on brand marketing, friend, or social media claims.”   

Payn’s work has appeared in USA Today, Food Insight, CNN, Food & Nutrition Magazine, NPR and many other media outlets. She is also the author of No More Food Fights! and Food Truths from Farm to Table, an IPPY award winner in health, medicine and nutrition.

Food Bullying: How to Avoid Buying B.S. was released on November 5 by Morgan James Publishing. You can order an author signed copy at Michele’s website, www.CauseMatters.com.  It is also available via all major book sellers.  All eBook versions are available across the United States and Canada.

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.