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    Published on: March 29, 2011

    by Michael Sansolo

    While I’m still mad as hell about the credit/debit card swipe fee, it’s not the only thing we have to talk about. So after you contact your trade association for information on where to speak out, take a few minutes to consider a whole new issue...

    The future is here and apparently Martha Stewart is leading the charge. Like it or not, this is a story that demands your attention.

    Supermarkets, as we know, are all about food and at some point that means cooking becomes involved. At best, most Americans have minimal cooking skills and only a scant few can even attempt to cook like the kitchen goddess herself. But using technology, we can now cook with her like never before.

    Martha Stewart Makes Cookies is a $5 app for the iPad and it is the next wave. No less an authority than the New York Times featured an article about the future of e-books and made it clear that what Martha has done is the vanguard of tomorrow. Cookbooks are about to go where no one has gone before and, if done right, cooking is about to experience a major change.

    Martha’s app uses technology to make recipes more interactive, easier and useful than ever before. To be honest, I won’t buy it because I’ll take my wife’s cookies over Martha’s any day, so I’ll have to let the Times explain the app.

    “Every recipe has a photo of the dish (something that is far too expensive for many printed cookbooks.)

    “Complicated procedures can be explained by an embedded video. When something needs to be timed, there’s a digital timer built right into the recipe. You can e-mail yourself the ingredients list to take to the grocery store. The app does what cookbooks cannot, providing a better version of everything that came before it.”

    All of that for $5. Face facts, the future is calling.

    This is one of those rare times when the opportunities for supermarkets and manufacturers is so large that detailing them seems silly. It’s a whole new way of partnering with the shopper, making their lives simpler in so many ways. The industry has tried endlessly to help people cook better, healthier and more interesting meals, but honestly, everything has its limits. A lousy cook (count me in that category) can kill even the best recipe.

    Now the recipes themselves can fight back and not a moment too soon. Cooking is a lost skill in far too many homes. Home economics is barely taught in schools and in many homes there are few skills beyond using the microwave that can be taught from generation to generation.

    Only now these untaught chefs can cook with Martha Stewart! Because with this app, cooks like me are no longer alone in our kitchens, wondering what certain measures or phrases mean. Now we lousy, inexperienced or overwhelmed cooks can have an expert in our kitchen, using embedded videos, photos and more to help us through meal preparation. Suddenly we have a mentor and with good information we’ll not only cook better, we’ll shop better, eat better and maybe even reduce food safety problems in the process. Suddenly we can cook with great chefs to deal with family eating issues from fussy eaters to nutrition needs to cooking on a budget.

    And it all begins with Martha Stewart.

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    There was a thought-provoking blog posting on the other day by Lisa Duggan, who also publishes TheMotherHoodblog in which she posed an interesting question in the headline:

    Do Men Need to Act Like Women to Succeed as Fathers?

    She said that her posting was inspired by a column she’d read asking whether women really need to act like men in order to be successful on Wall Street. And Duggan concludes that not only did the column reinforce stereotypes about women, but also about men. She asks, “Will men in our culture ever catch a break?

    And here’s where she gets really interesting:

    “Increasingly, fathers are rejecting classification as the ‘second parent’ and insist on playing a substantive role in their children’s lives. They are taking ownership of childcare responsibilities long considered the sole domain of women, including everything from attending doctor’s visits to choosing summer camp. Although stay-at-home fathers grab the headlines, this movement includes full time, part-time and work-from-home fathers, it includes gay and straight dads, and single, married and divorced dads. An involved father is any dad who has made changes to his life, whether temporary or permanent, in order to meet the daily needs of his children or to spend more time with them.”

    Duggan concludes:

    “Do men need to act like women to succeed as fathers? Absolutely not. Push back is good —progress is being made ... I look forward to the day when act like a man means be a great father, and we can half-jokingly tell our sons, “It’s okay if you don’t finish college, you can always marry a hedge fund manager.”

    If she’s right, and progress is being made in how people act and are viewed - both in terms of parenting and their professional lives - then these are trends to which marketers need to be finely attuned. You can’t talk to everybody the same way, and the best way to figure out how to talk to people is to spend a lot more time listening.

    And that’s our Tuesday Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    The New York Times this morning reports on how major CPG companies “in recent months have tried to camouflage price increases by selling their products in tiny and tinier packages. So far, the changes are most visible at the grocery store, where shoppers are paying the same amount, but getting less.”

    It is hardly the first time this has happened. As the Times notes, “In every economic downturn in the last few decades, companies have reduced the size of some products, disguising price increases and avoiding comparisons on same-size packages, before and after an increase.

    “Each time, the marketing campaigns are coy; this time, the smaller versions are ‘greener’ (packages good for the environment) or more ‘portable’ (little carry bags for the takeout lifestyle) or ‘healthier’ (fewer calories) ... Most companies reduce products quietly, hoping consumers are not reading labels too closely. But the downsizing keeps occurring. A can of Chicken of the Sea albacore tuna is now packed at 5 ounces, instead of the 6-ounce version still on some shelves, and in some cases, the 5-ounce can costs more than the larger one.”

    “Consumers are generally more sensitive to changes in prices than to changes in quantity,” John T. Gourville, a marketing professor at Harvard Business School, tells the Times. “And companies try to do it in such a way that you don’t notice, maybe keeping the height and width the same, but changing the depth so the silhouette of the package on the shelf looks the same. Or sometimes they add more air to the chips bag or a scoop in the bottom of the peanut butter jar so it looks the same size.”

    That’s not to say that the decreased sizes are forever. Gourville says that “once the economy rebounds ... a new ‘jumbo’ size product typically emerges, at an even higher cost per ounce. Then the gradual shrinking process of all package sizes begins anew...”
    KC's View:
    Eventually the cycle has to stop...or we’ll all just be eating food in pill form.

    While there is something about the lack of transparency in all this that I find disquieting, I have some sympathy for the CPG companies. After all, we’re in a time when commodity costs are going up, and they are looking to protect their margins and profits. So I’m not sure there’s any way around this, or at least none that CPG companies are likely to adopt. They’ll just have to put up with articles like the one in the Times and hope consumers have short memories.

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    SymphonyIRI is out with a new report suggesting that “the U.S. food and beverage market will continue its rebound in 2011 and 2012, as more shoppers believe the economy will improve and anticipate their personal financial situations and personal financial security will take a turn for the better. These results are tempered by projections that show price increases will act as the principal growth driver, and food and beverage market growth will trail that of the overall U.S. economy.”

    According to the report, issued at SymphonyIRI’s Summit 2011 conference in Miami Beach, the U.S. food and beverage market is expect “to grow in the 1.0-1.5 percent range in 2011 and the 1.8- 2.2 percent range for 2012. This is significantly slower than the 3.6-3.9 percent CAGR anticipated for U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by Moody’s.  Among surveyed shoppers, 38 percent anticipate their food and beverage spending will increase in 2011, while just 10 percent project their spending will decline.”

    As the economy continues to improve, shoppers are more likely to remain with a set of brands and retailers that they know delivers the value they expect,” said Dr. Krishnakumar (KK) Davey, managing director, Symphony Consulting. “It is important for these companies to invest in gaining the most detailed understanding of their shoppers possible. To succeed, these manufacturers and retailers must innovate by continuously introducing new products, packaging, pricing, merchandising and promotion strategies, and customizing these initiatives to highly-discrete shopper microsegments.”

    James Rushing, a partner with Symphony Consulting, adds, “Because the economic recovery is, and will continue to be, uneven, CPG and retail leaders must identify and focus on market segments where growth is likely to occur over the coming months and years. While there are exciting opportunities for CPG and retail companies to attract new shoppers and increase shopper loyalty, there are still challenges ahead.  Many shoppers expect their food and beverage spending to be flat or increase just slightly this year.”

    Full disclosure: SymphonyIRI is a sponsor of MNB’s occasional “Spotlight” series.
    KC's View:
    Just FYI...I’m in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to moderate a panel on mobile and social marketing at the annual Western Michigan University Food Industry Conference, but I’ll be heading down to Miami later today to run a panel tomorrow on the next iteration of e-grocery ... and I expect to be filing a report from there on other sessions and discussions.

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    Fascinating survey from Empathica, a Toronto-based company that analyzes consumer trends and insights, suggesting that of the more than 11,0000 consumers questioned, almost eight out of 10 believe that “the supermarket and grocery store industry currently uses technology that enhances their experience. However, only one in five consumers felt quick serve restaurants were successful in doing so, while furniture/ house ware stores and bars/taverns were ranked last on the list.”

    There is a big drop-off from number one to second place, with 60 percent of those surveyed saying that gas stations use experience-enhancing technology ... and then the numbers plummet, with third, fourth and fifth place being occupied by airlines (37 percent), pharmacies (34 percent) and electronics stores (33 percent). Convenience stores ranked 13th, at 33 percent.

    “While in-store, mobile and social technologies are still emerging, it’s interesting to see consumer perception for which industries are starting to leverage tools in a way that gives consumers a better overall experience,” said Gary Edwards, Chief Customer Officer at Empathica, in a prepared statement. “Consumers are starting to express a willingness to embrace some of these tools, such as check-out technologies that save them time. Brands should be cognizant of the ways in which emerging technologies can be utilized to enhance their customer experience. For those that are able to introduce new technologies to provide a better in-store experience for their customers, there appears to be a positive word of mouth marketing benefit to brands.”
    KC's View:
    It’s true, and while it may seem advanced from the consumer perspective, I still hear from people far smarter than I that the industry has to do a better job of integrating many of these technologies so that they can create a more actionable portrait of individual consumers, talking to them in more targeted ways and listening to what they are saying with greater sensitivity.

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    Bloomberg reports that health experts believe that the radioactive contamination of food in Japan is likely to increase, though there has been some evidence of improvement in the quality of the tap water.

    Japan continues to reel from the consequences of an earthquake and tsunami that precipitated the worst nuclear energy crisis since Chernobyl, and fresh produce of various kinds has been shown to have been contaminated with radiation. At the same time, according to the story, “Japan plans to urge other nations to observe World Trade Organization rules after the U.S., China and others halted imports of some Japanese food products on radiation concern, the Nikkei newspaper said yesterday. Rules require restrictions on imports and exports to have a scientific basis.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that “a Food and Drug Administration panel plans to meet this week to consider the potential link between hyperactivity in children and artificial dyes found in common foods such as candy, waffles and salad dressing.

    “The FDA is reconsidering its long-held position that the dyes pose no risk to children or anyone else. Artificial food dyes with names like Yellow 5 have long been targeted by some scientists and consumer advocates concerned that they could cause hyperactivity in children.”

    A likely result of the hearing will be a call for more research; outright bans are not expected, at least not at this time.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    • Ahold-owned Stop & Shop yesterday announced “the launch of its first mobile application for iPhone® and Android devices. The new addition to its suite of digital offerings is the evolution of Stop & Shop's efforts to offer customers a variety of solutions to simplify the shopping experience ... The mobile application syncs with customer loyalty cards, providing customers with access to their online accounts -- including checking for gas points, A+ School Rewards and personalized savings. Customers can access store circulars to check out every day savings on the go and also get directions to the nearest Stop & Shop.”

    "It's all about customer choice. Our goal is to give our shoppers options, and for those who enjoy technology, we think they will enjoy our new mobile application," said Mark McGowan, division president of Stop & Shop New England. "With mobile application downloads expected to jump 60 percent in the next three years, Stop & Shop is committed to keeping up with the latest technology. We're thrilled to take this next step and will be rolling out new and innovative features in the months ahead."

    The company said that it “is committed to rolling out additional features to its mobile application that will continue its tradition of staying on the cutting edge of technology and convenience in a grocery store setting. The company also intends to conduct consumer testing to ensure that the digital application offers what customers are looking for in the latest offering of grocery shopping technology.”
    KC's View:
    To steal the marketing line from the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play.

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    Reuters reports that in a webcast yesterday, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said that the company would unveil a new health and wellness strategy “at some point in the future..”

    According to the story, “The announcement comes as companies like upscale grocer Whole Foods Market Inc have outpaced rivals by putting an even more intense focus on the fast growing category. Health and wellness offerings typically appeal to higher wage earners, who generally have been less affected by the economic downturn.”

    Starbucks has already made some moves to lower fat products, both in its coffee and bakery offerings.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    • Harry & David, the upmarket fruit company that was hurt by heightened competition from supermarkets, the challenge of selling $4 pears in a recession, a series of bad executive hirings, and a mountain of debt that was the legacy of a series of owners that knew more about Wall Street than fresh fruit, filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday.

    Interim CEO Kay Hong, who has been in the job for all of a month, said that the restructuring would allow the company to "strengthen its operations and create long-term value, while continuing to provide customers with the highest-quality products and service."

    USA Today has a piece suggesting that among the changes that Harry & David has to make is a) doing a better job using social media to make itself look hip and relevant, and b) embracing local growers in various markets whenever possible.

    • Anheuser Busch will acquire Goose Island, the Illinois-based craft brewer that manufactures Honkers Ale and 312 Urban Wheat Ale, the companies announced yesterday.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The purchase is expected to close during the second quarter.

    A-B has been distributing Goose Island products for a number of years.

    Barron’s is out with its annual list of the world’s 30 best CEOs, and the rankings include Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Jim Sinegal of Costco, Carlos Brito of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Reed Hastings of Netflix, Steve Jobs of Apple, and James Skinner of McDonald’s.

    Terry Leahy of Tesco fell off the 2011 list...because he retired.

    Barron’s writes, “New or old on the list, each of the CEOs has a bold vision and a strikingly effective management style. Carlos Brito, for instance, has turned a South American brewer into the world's largest beer concern, Anheuser-Busch InBev. He runs it with a lean, flat management structure, with few perks and meritocratic promotion practices that pay little attention to seniority. He also encourages employees to use their imaginations. ‘Dreaming big or small takes the same amount of energy,’ he says.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    • The United Fresh Produce Association announced that Burleson Smith, former director of pest management policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will join the association as vice president, environmental affairs and sustainability. 

    Smith will lead the United Fresh Foundation’s Center for Global Produce Sustainability, and will work to develop programs linking the produce supply chain from farm to consumer to advance environmental responsibility, social acceptability and economic viability of the fresh produce industry.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    Yesterday’s Eye-Opener also raised some eyebrows.

    It took note of a CNN report saying that “young, religiously active people are more likely than their non religious counterparts to become obese in middle age, according to new research. In fact, frequent religious involvement appears to almost double the risk of obesity compared with little or no involvement.”

    The reason? Well, one theory is that churches rail against a lot of vices, but gluttony does not tend to be high up on the list (though it makes the top seven deadly sins). Another theory is that “more frequent participation in church is associated with good works and people may be rewarding themselves with large meals that are more caloric in nature than we would like." And a third theory is that churches tend to create a culture of eating, like with potluck suppers.

    My comment:

    I have long thought the problem with many people who think of themselves as religious is that they spend too much time on their knees, and too little time doing things with their hands and feet ... that the mark of real spirituality is converting those beliefs into action. And maybe even a solution to some small part of the nation’s obesity issue.

    Let’s start with the folks who either thought I was wrong or who were offended by my comment.

    One MNB user wrote:

    I think it’s the other way around and that there may be an inverse relationship…I think the folks with a tendency towards obesity gravitate towards church as a place where they can be accepted without judgment.  Nobody holds them accountable there, even at the potluck buffet line.

    From another MNB user:

    Wow…a lot of people have way too much time on their hands!  I’m not religious but this sounds like anti-religion bull crap to me.  Why try to divide people.  I mean, really, people who practice religion are fatter than us?  I guess it got a reaction out of me but there has to be more important things going on!!

    Another MNB user was brief:

    You obviously know little about the work of the church.

    Which church would that be, just out of curiosity?

    MNB user Paul Anthony wrote:

    Oh, bunk.  Shame on you for taking the chance to slap at religion.  And shame on CNN for the completely false analogy.  The two are only linked because rates of obesity and rates of church attendance are both higher for the poor (and higher in the South).  Come on, you know better – or do I need to explain to you what fast food and food deserts do to people?

    “…spend too much time on their knees…”: oh, please.

    Another MNB user wrote:
    I had to write you about your “religion” study. You often state that you are trying to be unbiased but your eye-opener just go to proves that you are not. Talk about hypocrisy. To state that “the problem with many people who think of themselves as religious is that they spend too much time on their knees, and too little time doing things with their hands and feet” is a ridiculous comment and very offensive. Do you realize that most of the people helped in this country are helped by or through religious groups? Do you realize that a lot of religious people also help people who are not within the United States? If it was not for some of our religious groups, we would have to depend on an incompetent government that can take weeks/months/years to help people while most religious groups can get it done faster and with less red tape. Most of the time, you are quick to support the government and all their government programs they like to put in place but when it comes to hard working religious men and women, you have nothing but disdain for them. Our government is a slow moving monster who has more red tape and contradictory rules and regulations, that they have a hard time getting out of their own way so that can help anyone out.

    So with that being said, I want to point out a couple of things. I am an overweight very religious person (Catholic to be exact) who actually gets out and tries to help people. I have cooked and feed the homeless meals. I have given rides to those who are having financial problems so they cannot afford car repairs. I have helped take of families who do not have a place to live and end up staying at our church for a short time while they get back on their feet. I volunteer at my church constantly. I would like to point out that I do this all while I am working full time and going to school full time. My weight has nothing to do with my religion and everything to do with what I choose to eat. Here is another study that wants to put the blame on something else (religion) than the individual but instead of you pointing out that it should be put on the individual (which I have seen you do in the past), you are quick to jump on the “religion” causes the problem band wagon. People need to take responsibility for their own actions and not find an “excuse” to blame it on. It does not help out the individual and it does not help out our society. Glad to see that you were quick to accept the “excuse” instead of pointing out the flaws in the study/thinking.

    I sense a little sarcasm there...

    I certainly did not mean to imply that everybody who is religious is guilty of the sin of inaction. In fact, I didn’t even say “everybody.” I said “many people.” “Some people” might have raised fewer hackles, but I’ll be honest ... I think my comment is defensible. Offensive to some, maybe, but defensible.

    You sound like the living embodiment of what it seems to me religion ought to be about - an active, progressive way to help other people as a way of worshipping whatever deity you happen to believe in. And I’d be surprised if, in your heart of hearts, you did not agree that there are so-called “religious” people out there who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

    MNB user Laurie Gethin wrote:

    Kevin, I expect (and hope) that you will get a lot of feedback on your comment about religious people...very nasty and uncalled for, in my opinion.

    Did you ever think that quite a few religious people focus on OTHERS rather than THEMSELVES - so they may not take the time needed to work out regularly within their limited discretionary time, but instead are volunteering at the food bank, or working at the local shelter, or spending one night a week at choir practice (such as myself)?  This type of use of one's discretionary time can be very rewarding...although it can come with a personal price.

    It takes a lot of time focused on SELF to eat right and exercise...and sometimes people sacrifice that time to help others.  Just another theory to consider...

    From another MNB user :

    The Monday Eye-Opener is so far below the standards you've established for your blog that I was almost embarrassed for you. If it was a slow day for content in this daily feature, perhaps a "will return" like you occasionally post in the "Your Views" section was in order.

    You've taken on religious topics countless times and it often touches some nerves and triggers some spirited debate. If this was another attempt to do so, it was just so weak. The results of the study are what they are. But the theories were really lame. Gluttony doesn't rank high enough of as a vice? Because people do good works they reward themselves with large meals? Churches create "a culture of eating?"

    Are they serious? That's the best they could come up with?

    MNB user David Burgess wrote:

    Cheap shot.  Sound more like your own Old Time Bigotry.  All the polls show that religious people donate more to charity and volunteer more time to their communities than their non religious brethren.  Sounds a lot like “don’t confuse my prejudice with the facts,” or maybe you were just bored and wanted to stir up the pot a little.  Not to toot my own horn, but I helped organize 750 volunteers on Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (yes, he was a pastor) and we’re planning another 500+ volunteer park clean-up for Earth Day.  And I know there are a lot of people like me around the country.  I really don’t mind you having a little fun at my expense, but I really don’t like you perpetuating a negative stereotype that doesn’t conform to the facts.

    I loved this email from MNB user Rosemary Fifield, who makes some excellent comments about the study’s possible flaws:

    My first thought on reading this is "Where are the most religious people located?" According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, the top ten religious states are Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky, in that order. At the bottom are the six New England states, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and New York (from least to more so).

    Looking at obesity statistics for 2010, the most obese populations occur in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arkansas, South Carolina, and North Carolina. From least obese upwards are Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, Utah, Montana, and New Jersey.

    Is there a correlation? Definitely. How relevant is that correlation? I'd be more likely to look at what economic advantages the folks in the leanest states might have.

    Excellent point.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    I bristle at the word “religious” as a term for those who are part of a faith community. As a Christian, I disassociate myself with that term because it can equally describe one who chooses to follow Jesus, and one that worships the planets, pets, or whatever is the object of their religion. But, as I read your piece, religious is defined as those who attend church.

    What I find interesting is your comments: “I have long thought the problem with many people who think of themselves as religious is that they spend too much time on their knees, and too little time doing things with their hands and feet ... that the mark of real spirituality is converting those beliefs into action. And maybe even a solution to some small part of the nation’s obesity issue.”

    Your opinion is that action is more important than prayer. My opinion is that you underestimate the power of prayer. I do agree that real spirituality is manifested in actions to serve others motivated by a thankful heart. Many Christians and Christian organizations that I see firsthand are compassionate and get their hands dirty in working to serve others (look at Samaritan’s Purse and their aide to Japan).

    So, I’m not happy about the findings as it places me in the “propensity to be fat” category. But did you consider that maybe the reason behind this finding is that those young, religiously active people are actually focused on others and not themselves? I know many that would prefer to serve at a soup kitchen vs. attending a church potluck (how stereotypical can you get – potluck).

    I see a living faith in many young people who give unselfishly to others and care less about their own needs. And I think that the world would be a better place if we had more like them, fat or skinny! (but why not caring and healthy!)

    There were some folks who agreed with my analysis.

    One MNB user wrote:

    I don’t think I have ever thought you were “baiting” the readers but talk about pushing buttons!

    I suspect the “too much time on their knees” comment will result in an inbox meltdown! By the way, extremely well put!

    MNB user John Shelford wrote:

    I am a follower of Jesus Christ and you are right on.  What about prayer and “fasting?”  What about discipline and self control of the lust of eating?  And what about one’s body being the temple of the Holy Spirit of those who are believers? 

    I know not who you follow or worship but as one in the group target, the message is on target!  Preach it!!

    From another MNB user:

    Religion: Real Gutsy Comment! That should raise some interesting commentary.

    I agree with you, BTW!

    One man’s “gutsy” is another person’s “moronic.”

    Listen, the “Eye-Opener” series is designed to get people thinking and talking, usually about issues that are somehow off the beaten path of our usual coverage. This would qualify, for better or for worse.

    I actually sort of agree with the assessment that while this study’s results may be interesting, it may reflect more about geography and cultural preferences (where people live and what they have eaten for generations) than it does with how they spend their Sundays. And I wish I had made that connection in my commentary. But I didn’t think of it, not until it was brought up by a number of emails.

    I also understand why some people would think I was taking a mean, unsolicited shot at religion.

    But I disagree with that conclusion.

    The opinion I expressed - the problem with many people who think of themselves as religious is that they spend too much time on their knees, and too little time doing things with their hands and feet ... that the mark of real spirituality is converting those beliefs into action - does not seem all that radical to me, nor is it an original thought.

    Frankly, that’s what I learned from a number of Jesuits whom I found to be learned and spiritual people - that one can best worship God through one’s actions, not just through prayer. (Note to critics: I said “not just through prayer.”) It was a core lesson of my education at Loyola Marymount University - that thought and action and prayer together are more powerful than thought alone. Or even prayer alone.

    At some level, isn’t that the message sent by the lives of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Mother Theresa?

    How many people in this country say they are religious, but act that way only on Saturdays or Sundays, and spend the rest of their week engaged in activities - both personal and professional - at odds with the prayers and sentiments uttered within the confines of their church, temple or wherever it is they worship?

    I’m going to stop here, because, to be honest, I am swimming in intellectual and spiritual waters far too deep for a person of my limitations.

    Does this have a connection to the obesity issue? Maybe only through my somewhat warped sensibility, and maybe only in the sense that it inspired me to remember a lesson about thought and action taught to me long ago.

    I still think that my original statement is utterly defensible, and hardly can be construed as anti-religious.

    It actually was anti-hypocrite.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2011

    The Los Angeles Times reports that a federal court is allowing a lawsuit to proceed that accuses the Campbell Soup Co. “of misleading consumers by selling lower-sodium soups at premium prices when they had almost as much salt as regular soups. Among other things, the suit claimed that Campbell's 25% Less Sodium Tomato Soup had the same sodium level - 480 milligrams - as its regular tomato soup.”

    The suit was brought against the company, the story says, by four New Jersey women disenchanted by what they see as deliberate obfuscation of the truth.

    According to the story, “Campbell said in a statement that it was confident in the accuracy of its labeling. In trying to dismiss the case, it had argued that the federal Food and Drug Administration, which oversees product labeling, does not require Campbell to specify how one soup compares with other products.

    “But U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle in Camden wrote in a decision last week that ‘it was reasonable for plaintiffs to expect that the soups they were receiving had 25%-30% less sodium than the regular tomato soup, when the soups in fact had approximately the same amount of sodium’.”
    KC's View:
    I hope that the Campbell Soup defense is stronger than just saying that it is living within the letter of federal regulations. Because saying that it can call a soup “low sodium” when it has the same amount of sodium as regular soup, but can do so because the regulations don’t say it cannot ... well, that doesn’t strike me as a ringing defense on the side of truth, justice and the American way.

    The lesson ought to be clear by now. If you are not transparent, and if your positions even appear to be less that forthright and accurate, it is going to come back and bite you.