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Rant of the day

I use the http://planetorganics.com organic produce and grocery service. They deliver groceries once a week or once every other week, and you can either be surprised by the produce package they put together or order your own produce and groceries online. I like their produce. Their grocery selection leaves something to be desired, but they're trying. I support them because it's one of my ethical tenets to try to eat more organic food from small growers and humanely raised meat. I don't do it because I think it's healthier, because I am not aware of any firm evidence that organic food is really healthier than non-organic. If it is, that would be a nice bonus, but it's not particularly relevant to me.

The problem is that someone in their marketing department thinks that everyone who cares about organic produce is a fitness nut. Their weekly newsletter tends to include a column about fitness with an emphasis on training like an athlete, as if everybody thinks that's an important goal.

They just sent me a request to fill out a survey. It includes the following:
   Your opinion is important to us - so when you complete the survey by
   November 30, 2004, you'll be entered to win a FREE gift -- a terrific
   "Get Fit in the New Year" package including:
     * A one hour personal fitness consultation  from
       nationally-syndicated columnist, TV host and fitness guru Eric
     * An autographed copy of the his New York Times Best Seller,
       Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week
     * And the top of the line Polar M32 Heart Rate Monitor that
       calculates the calories and fat you burn during exercise

I don't even know where to begin in my objections to this. OK, let's start with "Get Fit in the New Year."

I hate "Get Fit," because it's missing something very important - fit for what? Of course "everybody knows" that "Fit" in this idiom means physical ability. But physical ability to do what? It's an empty container just waiting to swallow all sorts of unrelated notions of physical health and then spit them back out covered in moral righteousness. If you're not physically able, then you're not "fit," and if you're not "fit," that means you're not worthy as a human being.

"A one hour personal fitness consultation from nationally-syndicated columnist, TV host and fitness guru" - I can't begin to describe the disgust and dread this prospect inspires, or the lack of respect I have for people who derive their expert status from the fact that they write a column, host a TV show, and misuse the word for a Hindu or Tibetan Buddhist spiritual teacher.

"An autographed copy of the his New York Times Best Seller, Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week" - Can you imagine how irrelevant a book with this title is to a fat over-40 geek whose idea of exercise is wrangling large dogs at the local animal shelter and taking Afro-Cuban dance classes at the local fat-friendly women's gym?

"top of the line Polar M32 Heart Rate Monitor that calculates the calories and fat you burn during exercise" - Because of course the only point of exercising is to keep track of how much weight and fat you are getting rid of.

It happens that I'm physically able enough to engage in the type of exercise that can be tracked on a heart rate monitor, but what about the people who aren't, because they have mobility limitations or pain or fatigue when they do traditional aerobic exercise?

I'm sorry that my produce service is sending the message that the opinions of such people don't matter in this survey. I'm especially sorry because it seems like it would have been so darn easy for them to offer a thank-you gift of something they knew their customers would like - for example, maybe a gift certificate for ORGANIC FOOD? Or at least they could have offered a choice between such a gift and the fitness-nut gift.

OK, having dispensed my rant, I'm going to walk to the new Trader Joe's that just opened up half a mile from my house. Without counting the calories and fat I'm burning.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 15th, 2004 09:31 pm (UTC)
I hope you write at least some of that on their survey!

Nov. 15th, 2004 10:17 pm (UTC)
Here's what I wrote to their service department.
I'm letting you know that I won't be completing the Planet Organics
survey I just received, because I am annoyed by the "able-bodied only
need apply" message of the "free gift" offered.

I hope Planet Organics eventually figures out that not everybody who
subscribes to the service does so because running triathlons and
reducing body fat are important goals to them.
Nov. 16th, 2004 05:55 am (UTC)
What snickerpuss said. You rock.
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:24 pm (UTC)
Bleah. I just filled out a survey from some grad student here who's trying to develop an electronic "wellness newsletter" for student, faculty and staff women on campus. Under the "what would you be interested in reading?" section, all the choices were about low-fat recipes, exercise classes and workouts, healthy weight loss, finding a personal trainer, and other topics that suggest a One True Way approach to health.

And this, mind you, was coming from someone in the Women Studies program.

Under the "do you have any other suggestions" I listed:

* Sexual health for reproductive and post-reproductive women
* Menopause and aging
* Sexism and body acceptance
* Eating disorders
* Strength-training for women of all ages and body types
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:30 pm (UTC)
Go you!
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:48 pm (UTC)
You rock. And I don't even know you. :)
Nov. 15th, 2004 11:01 pm (UTC)
keryx, meet my friend kightp, Menobabe and Renaissance Artist Extraordinaire, unrepentant feminist, and darn cute besides.

kightp, meet keryx, who belly-dances, has a really sexy brain, and keeps several feminist and body-positive blogs / LJ communities.
Nov. 15th, 2004 11:15 pm (UTC)
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:25 pm (UTC)
GAAAAHHHHH. Not dissimilar from my ORGANIC food store carrying an aisle of low-carb products. Not even organic low-carb products, but Atkins-branded stuff.

I don't know if branding themselves as part of a fitness craze actually helps organic food sources or not, but it's so disappointing that these shops of ALL places would entertain the stupid conflation of wholesome food and diet/"fitness".

Glad you wrote back and took your money elsewhere.
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:34 pm (UTC)
See, I don't care all that much if they carry Atkins stuff or position themselves to appeal to fitness nuts. I care that they assume all their customers are fitness nuts. (As shown by their offering a chance at a fitness package to people who fill out their survey - a survey should be designed to solicit input from ALL their customers, if they really care about the results).

I haven't taken all my money elsewhere yet, but I do periodically hit them over the head about their overfocus on fitness. And now that there is both a Trader Joe's and a Whole Foods within a couple of miles of my house, I may indeed start taking more of my business elsewhere.
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:47 pm (UTC)
I see the assumptions your store made about their customers as basically the same issue as the Atkins thing. You can sell the stuff if you want, but you're not really an organic food store if you also hock (even by giveaway) a product with no connection to organic.
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:52 pm (UTC)
Good point.
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:26 pm (UTC)
There's no space for this rant in the survey? What a surprise!

I wonder who they think their customers ARE.
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:36 pm (UTC)
I refused to take the survey, because they said if I did take it I would be entered to win this consultation with a fitness guru. Would you take a survey if they said you might win a chance to have your fingernails pulled out?
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:45 pm (UTC)
Ooo, I wish THAT had gone into the letter! :-)
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:51 pm (UTC)
*giggle* That's for Confrontation 303 students. I'm still on Confrontation 1A, or maybe Confrontation 0.8.
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:52 pm (UTC)
You can practice here.
Nov. 15th, 2004 10:58 pm (UTC)

Yeah, I audit Confrontation 303 every semester and still haven't passed 1A. (In other words, I write in my journal what I wish I'd said!)
Nov. 16th, 2004 04:01 am (UTC)
Go everyone, especially firecat for sending that note and kightp for poking them in the side.
Nov. 16th, 2004 07:09 am (UTC)
One thing I really appreciate about organic foods (and Trader Joes and Whole Foods) is I can get snack food w/ no trans fat (hydrogenated oils), no lard (frequently kosher!).
Nov. 16th, 2004 07:36 am (UTC)
and since I need low carb for the sugar reduction aspect as opposed to the weight loss crap, I like that Whole Foods does have some stuff, but most is either organic or doesn't have weird ingredients.
Nov. 16th, 2004 08:24 am (UTC)
The real reason for those heart monitors is not to calculate weight loss and fat burning. I have one and it doesn't do that.

What it does do is tell me my heart rate -- a useful thing to know so I can immediately tell whether I'm doing aerobic or anaerobic exercise. The former, of course, is healthy; the latter can seriously screw you up.

Also, a good fitness consultant can come up with an exercise program relevant to anyone, even 40+ female geeks like you and me.
Nov. 16th, 2004 03:07 pm (UTC)
I know what heart rate monitors do. But the package emphasized its weight loss features.

Emphasis, of course, on the "good." Which "TV host and fitness guru" doesn't convey to me. I belong to a wonderful size accepting gym, Every Woman Health Club in Redwood City, that has personal trainers I'll use if I want a personal trainer consultant.
Nov. 16th, 2004 05:04 pm (UTC)
Point taken. (Idiots.)

What these fat-obsessive marketers (have you seen some of them -- they're downright anorexic looking!) don't get is even if you do want to lose weight, you're going to be fat and fit. Even fitness guru Richard Simmons got that one when he had his health club chain in the 80s.
Nov. 16th, 2004 05:50 pm (UTC)
Simmons had fat people in his videos sometimes, but he clearly thought that weight loss was the road to health. His entire empire was based on that premise - he only acknowledged, more than some "fitness gurus" do, that people in his program would be fat before they were thin, not that they would always be fat.

I recall reading a quote from him in Susan Bordo's Unbearable Weight, something about how no one would want to date you just because you had a healthy heart. (The implication being that you had to be thin too, to be attractive.)
Nov. 16th, 2004 07:03 pm (UTC)
In practice, his health clubs had special classes just for women who were 40 or more pounds overweight so they'd feel more comfortable exercising without the "thin stigma" thing going.

I felt out of place because I was overweight, but not 40 lbs, and because of my height, 40 lbs is like 60 lbs on normal-height women. I kind of resented that they wanted to put me in with the "thin people" even though I had a hard time keeping up with the "fat people."
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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