‘Tis the Marketing Season, Guest Post by Lindsey Wahlstrom

‘Tis the Marketing Season

In the month between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, most Americans adhere to the motto: ‘Tis the season to eat and drink. But the next time you find yourself paying for yet another seasonal latte with your limited graduate student funds, ask yourself: “Why am I buying this?”

You may be surprised by the answer.

Despite what the best diet gurus lead us to believe, we don’t always crave food for emotional or physical reasons. Sometimes we eat and drink not because we need or even want to, but because we were prompted by marketing. Marketers are smart professionals with a knack for making us want and buy what we don’t need — especially when it comes to food.


As a communications professional, I thought I had marketing figured out. I could not have been more wrong. When I began working for the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, I was blown away by what I learned. If you, like so many other Americans, think marketing ends at advertisements on billboards, radio, and TV, you have but scratched the surface of the tactics used to earn your expendable income.

Marketing has grown to encompass pouring rights, sponsorships, mobile apps, adver-games, product placements in video games and TV shows, and even branded classroom materials billed as educational curriculum.  In short, there are very few moments in the day when you are not reached by marketing.

So why the big fuss? It turns out marketing works. Really well. Individuals who are exposed to marketing consume more, both of advertised and non-advertised foods, and a well-placed point-of-purchase promotion can lead us to impulsively buy foods and drinks.

Most everything is fine in moderation, but as the effects of marketing accumulate over time, so do the strains on our waistline and wallets. Maybe this holiday season, with a bit of media savvy, we can appreciate the Coca-Cola 12-pack Christmas tree display at the grocery store for what it is: a genius marketing move to which we no longer fall prey. Now that would be cause for celebration.

~Lindsey Wahlstrom

Lindsey Wahlstrom is currently a 2nd year epidemiology student at Columbia University. She did her practicum at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, and was recognized for having one of the top Epidemiology abstracts on practicum day. A thanks to Lindsey for her contribution on the FPOP blog!


Event Recap: City Harvest

The City Harvest Healthy Neighborhoods Mobile Market event this past Saturday, October 26th, was a big success! Thank you for all the FPOP volunteers who came out bright and early on Saturday morning to help.

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FPOP volunteers helped to distribute over 26,000 pounds of fresh produce to community members in the Washington Heights and Inwood area in conjunction with City Harvest’s Healthy Neighborhoods Mobile Market.

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City Harvest’s Mobile Markets are free, farmers-market style distributions of fresh fruits and vegetables intended to relieve food insecurity in low-income communities across New York City’s five boroughs. Our FPOP volunteers braved cold morning temperatures for over four and a half hours, distributing carrots, onions, potatoes, winter squash and apples to community members, many of whom waited in line for over an hour.


The Washington Heights/Inwood Mobile Market operates year-round, twice a month, and Market Manager Pedro Urbaez says that it is the busiest City Harvest mobile market in the city. For more information on their mission and how you can get involved, don’t hesitate to check out their site!

Stay tuned for more exciting FPOP events!

Event Recap: Big Apple Crunch Day!

Big Apple Crunch Day was a huge success! Thank you to everyone who came out and took an apple (or several) to support healthy eating! Although it was a bit chilly, we appreciate the support from everyone who came out to crunch with us in front of Hammer.


Big Apple Crunch Day was hosted and supported by various Greenmarket Farmer’s markets across New York City, so if you’re interested in more events and happenings, don’t hesitate to check out their website.

It was fortunate that Food Day also occurred on the same day as the Big Apple Crunch Day; there was really not better time to support fresh, local food (in this case, apples), and healthy eating!





Stay tuned for more FPOP events! Stay crunchy.

The Minority Health Forum: A Citywide Assessment of Obesity in Minority Populations

FPOP and other student groups at Columbia came together to plan this major event, gathering experts to discuss the problem of obesity in minority groups in New York City. The forum featured keynote speaker, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and a panel discussion with Cathy Nonas, Olajide Williams, and Michael Hernandez, moderated by April Velasco. Read more about it here.

The Role of Chefs in The Food Fight


Chef Bill Telepan, Wellness in the Schools

In addition to his full-time commitment to his acclaimed eponymous restaurant, Chef Bill Telepan has become a leader in the grassroots movement to improve the quality of food in schools. Chef Telepan spoke with us about his work with Wellness in the Schools and the role chefs and the food community can play in improving the eating habits of Americans.