Free Trade

In the Amazon, Your Ice Cream Truck is a Barge

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snacks afloat

Nestle has put together a floating supermarket barge, and on Friday it sailed the product-laden boatmarket (superboat? grocerybarge?) into brave new Amazonian emerging markets:

The world's largest food company will send a boat with 100-square meters (1,076 square feet) of supermarket space on a journey to 18 small cities and 800,000 potential consumers on the Para and Xingu rivers in Brazil, before starting the journey again. The vessel will carry 300 different goods including chocolate, yogurt, ice cream and juices.

My first reaction: Neat! It's like having an ice cream truck come to your house, which must be especially exciting when your house is in a remote fishing city in Brazil. Second reaction: Irresistible desire to make "whatever floats your boat" jokes.

Apparently that reaction is not shared by all. At Alternet, Michele Simon, a public health lawyer and author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back, calls this an "especially disgusting news item" about which "writing about it is the only way I know to release my outrage. My version of screaming from the rooftop."

Her post was tweeted approvingly by food luminaries like the New York Times' Mark Bittman and (the late) Gourmet's Ruth Reichl, who suggested that reading it would be a good way to bring one's blood to a rolling boil. Simon writes:

If there are people out there so backwards to still be subsisting on food found in nature, Big Food will find them, by land or by sea, and set them straight.

Life without powered milk and snacks–even if they are appropriately low priced and nutritionally enhanced, as many of the products on the boat are–would somehow be better, purer, simpler, Simon suggests: "They probably don't even realize they are missing out on Toll House, Raisinets, and Sno-Caps," and Nestle should leave it that way. Her reaction is pretty much the opposite of "whatever floats your boat"–something more along the lines of "that boat had better be powered be locally-grown leafy greens, mister!"  

But "subsisting" in they key word in that quote. People want more than subsistence–they want variety, and pleasure, and novelty. This is the sentence that caught my attention in the original article, although my blood remained at a steady simmer:

Nestle expects as many as 1 billion people in emerging markets to exit poverty and be able to afford its products in the coming decade.

Nestle is sending its boat into the hinterlands precisely because those hinterlands are now full of people who might be able to swing the purchase of the occasional chocolate bar, something well outside the scope of their financial lives just a few years ago. Hardly the sort of thing that makes me want to take to the rooftops–or the Internet–to express my outrage.

Crossposted at Megan McArdle's blog

NEXT: Franken-Alfalfa OK, Says Supreme Court

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  1. I find that I’m more favorably inclined toward Big Food than I am toward Big Hunger.

    1. FFFUUUUU, I’m in the Pocket of Big Hunger!

  2. But – but – but – those subsistence farmers are living out an authentic human experience, and people who eat Raisinets aren’t!

    We know their lives are authentic, because they’re full of suffering. How dare you steal that from them by giving them candy bars!

    1. “To heal other people you must suffer yourself.”

      1. you’re a cunt

  3. Sweeeeeeeeet

  4. God, but I despise these people, yammering on about “authenticity” from their upper west side lofts.

    1. God, but I despise these people, yammering on about “authenticity” from their upper west side lofts.

      It’s summer now, so wouldn’t they be at the Hamptons?

      1. Only on the weekends. You aren’t from New York, are you.

        1. How’d you guess?

    2. God, but I despise these people, yammering on about “authenticity” from their upper west side lofts.

      Bloviating Wellesley grad bloviates.

  5. Michele Simon missed a golden opportunity not titling her damning screed Heart of Dark Chocolate: The Horror, the Horror.

    I also would have accepted A Popsiclyst Now.

    1. I vote for A Popsiclyst Now.

    2. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to feed others Ho Hos without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment! Because it’s judgment that defeats us.

    3. You know, because they’re going up river, like in the story.

      I pull out my A material and only two of you notice? Whatever, I’m done punning for you dicks.

      (Maybe Heart of Dark Nestle would have been better?)

      (No, don’t second guess yourself, Fisty.)

      1. I noticed. I had considered a “Mistah Kurtz, he dead” statement, but it didn’t seem to fit.

  6. Hardly the sort of thing that makes me want to take to the rooftops–or the Internet–to express my outrage.

    There are reeducation camps to fix that.

  7. Sustenance farming and hunting/gathering leave you very time time to work on blog post. Some days you barely manage a Tweet.

    “very hungry again hope im not boring you guys lol”

    1. “8te the berries and bark I gathered for dinner http://bit.ly/4rt65 anybody else going to stare at the moon all nite”

      1. I eated the purple berries. They taste like burning.

      2. @poisonfrog imma rub my arrowheads on U 2nite.

        1. “made some rope from vine, any1 wanna trade for grubs?”

          1. That’s more of a “amazonia.craigslist.com” post.

            1. Would it count if I linked it on tweeter?

              1. Obligatory Anti-Twitter Response: If a tree falls in the forest and tweets about it, will i get that tweet without any sort of twitter client?

                1. my point, if i really had one, being that craigslist is going to get you a better audience for your trade than twitter will.

              2. twitter is banned here in china… thank gawd i have a proxy

                1. Alan Vanneman lives in China?

    2. Fell out of treehouse again – attacked by ants LOL!

    3. Damned ants took my Raisinets – grrrr

    4. They probably spend most of their time playing this: 3rd World Farmer

      I wish this site was a joke. Go here to warp flute to what The Road would be like in video game form.

      1. I would love to play that Civ IV mod multiplayer and go warmonger. Sure, I’d “lose” – but it would be soooooo worth it.

        1. The 3rd World Farmer game progresses with disease and fire wiping out your livestock and crops every turn.

          Ayiti: The Cost of Life — play as a Haitian family who must decide to either send the kids to school or put them to work. Either way, you run out of money and everybody gets sick.

          Against All Odds — UN produced. Play as a person who is arrested and interroggated by the secret police. For ages 7 and up. Yay!

          1. Thanks Mav, I was going actually play it, thinking i could win. Once i figured out what the different colored tiles meant….no tool tips, no tutorial.

            Yeah good luck with that “change” gamesforchange.com.

          2. Ayiti: The Cost of Life — play as a Haitian family who must decide to either send the kids to school or put them to work. Either way, you run out of money and everybody gets sick.

            So it’s Oregon Trail: Haiti Edition?

            1. Pretty much, and they’re all just as depressing.

      2. Huh, had my farmer over 3k a year in income by year 15. With another 15 years would have had a large plot in Iowa and have the family immigrating.

  8. Can I assume Michele Simon subsists on grubs and beetles?

    1. She eats cruelty-free, GMO-free organic gruel, but still worries she is exploiting grains.

      1. We do have a patent on that recipe.

        1. Shit! *fires our patent department*

  9. My only knowledge of the Amazon comes from Anaconda. This can’t end well.

    1. Do you like tacos and burritos?

      1. i like tacos and burritos

    1. Ah, fuck. Well, you can find it somewhere else if you really feel like watching an Amazon-themed Metalocalypse episode.

  10. The world’s largest food company will send a boat with 100-square meters (1,076 square feet) of supermarket space on a journey to 18 small cities

    The thieving bastards will probably charge 2 goats for a Big Gulp. Hopefully, they’ll make up for it with a PowerBall installation.

  11. So the Nestle’s Nazis are forcing allowing people isolated from the 21st century to consume Carnation Malted Milk, Lean Cuisine entrees and use Coffee Mate in their Nescafe?

    Those goddam bastards heroes!

    Michele Simon, Mark Bittman and Ruth Reichl are complete asshole who would never voluntarily restrict themselves to the indigenous people’s of the Amazon diet for more than a day. Fuck them all very much.

    1. Hey, until i have my own cow, how else am I supposed to have non-curdled dairy for my sporadic coffee drinking episodes?

      Cows: Keeping your Milk Fresh for over 4000 years.

    2. “So the Nestle’s Nazis are forcing allowing people isolated from the 21st century to consume Carnation Malted Milk, Lean Cuisine entrees and use Coffee Mate in their Nescafe?”

      Yes, they are taking their SUBSIDIZED products that contain little to no nutritional and flavor qualities and selling them to people who would be better off spending their meager resources on anything else.

      “Michele Simon, Mark Bittman and Ruth Reichl are complete asshole who would never voluntarily restrict themselves to the indigenous people’s of the Amazon diet for more than a day. Fuck them all very much”

      I don’t know those people – but it sure seems that the “libertarians” of Reason would never restrict themselves to free market food for even a day.

  12. Where’s the outrage about all that acai berry shit the Amazonians are foisting on US?

    1. I’d look up “acai berry”, but in this case I’m probably better-off remaining ignorant.

  13. If there are people out there so backwards to still be subsisting on food found in nature, Big Food will find them, by land or by sea, and set them straight.

    Did she really say Big Food?

    That’s just as ridiculous as Big Sodomy.

    Regardless, if I’m ever lost and wandering about the Mojave desert, I sure hope Big Water finds me.

    1. I’ll find you first.

      1. But I always win in the end.

        1. Wait until we get our subsidies; we’ll own your ass soon enough.

          1. You can get the vultures, I get the desert.

            1. Seems nobody’s keeping an eye on me for a change.

    2. Hey, freedom of choice is what you got, but freedom from choice is what you want.

      1. Are you Gary 1 or Gary 2?

  14. The important question is which flavors do you think they’ll most enjoy? I say mint chocolate chip.

    1. Vanilla. Everybody likes vanilla.

      1. That is so offensive.

    2. I say Rocky Road, even if they have to change the name to Piranha River because those folks don’t have roads, much less rocky ones.

      1. Why don’t you go and buy half a gallon, baby? Have another triple scoop with me.

      2. Piranha River

        And it makes about as much sense as “rocky road”. Win.

    3. duh. Chunky monkey. Just like Ben & Jerry’s, only they use real chunky.

      1. NICE! I’m so sick of the corn-syrup based chunky-substitute they use in the U.S. version.

        1. Joke Handle: 3
          Wylie: 0

          (or insert your favorite soccer scores)

  15. These people literally want to take candy from babies. Fuck them.

  16. Would they be okay if it were a socially aware ice cream, like Ben & Jerry’s?

  17. Those twits should be rounded up and dropped off in the Amazon jungle where they can lead by example to show the natives how they should nobly stick to their “natural” diets.

    I expect they would all be squealing like stuck pigs to get out of there within about 45 minutes tops.

    1. I’d say an hour tops. It’d take them at least 45mins to stop trying to get their WiFi to work.

    2. Isn’t that how Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 ends, with the Eco-terrorists dropped in the Amazon to live in harmony with nature?

    1. I think the next “it” sweet should be any sweet licked off a hooker’s ass. Talk about expensive.

    2. I posted in that thread. Can you spot my malign presence?

      1. Nice try SugarFree, but I know better than to read the comments at jezebel.

      2. Your ability to disguise your prose as that of an unloved and desperate fat broad is uncanny.

      3. Tell me this was it:

        1. Artisan marshmallows
        2. Handmade whoopie pies

        I shit you not, both were trashy and processed but they found a new light through hipsters. Can’t the next it desert just be a tasty, deep-fried hipster powdered with fair-trade, organic sugar powder? With irony on the side, for dipping of course.

        I hope so, because it’s awesome. I hope not, because “dessert” is spelled wrong.

        1. Shockingly, no. But that is pretty awesome.

          1. Was it the Krispy Kreme suggestion?

    3. My initial reaction upon scrolling to the comments is that those dessert-style belgian waffles look like the goddamn best thing ever made.

  18. In the US, people who still subsist on food found in nature are called “hunters”; most progressives/lefties tend to look down on them…

  19. When you walk 10 miles through the jungle everyday, I don’t think an ice cream is gonna kill you.

  20. Nestle and their ilk have done us all so much good. Of course Amazonians would want them, too. Let’s share the obesity, the high fructose corn syrup, the maltodextrin. High cholesterol for everybody! Equal opportunity! Heart disease for all!

    1. We live longer and undoubtedly healthier lives within our western decadence.

      1. “We live longer and undoubtedly healthier lives within our western decadence.”

        Longer, yes. Healthier? Perhaps if you judge health by the absence of disease and illness within the human population. If you judge health by the capacity of the land and water to support the lives of that human population and all of the other populations in that area – then no we are not living healthier lives.

        The root word for “decadence” is “decay” – the land and water are decaying. So are the minds of the people who are dependent on eating garbage created by the destruction of the land and water.

    2. Another troll who needs training wheels.

      1. “Another troll who needs training wheels.”

        Does opposition to fascism make one a troll if one posts that opposition on a libertarian website?

        No, so this must be a fascist website posing as a libertarian website.

    3. Maltodextrin…mmmmmm……

    4. The sad part? I’m sure dmd believes he/she is on the side of the angels.

    5. Would it make it OK if Nestle put some tapeworm eggs or something in the ice cream? You know, to give it that preindustrial native touch.

    6. Would it be OK if the ice cream were made from raw milk?

      1. “Would it be OK if the ice cream were made from raw milk?”

        How about if the ice cream wasn’t made from subsidized milk?

    7. Maybe if they mixed in some twigs, bark and bugs.

      1. aka “Authentic Amazonian Rocky Road Ice Cream”

        1. No, you need to put in some pebbles and dirt for that.

  21. Barges move slowly. Those poor natives are going to hear that damned ice cream truck song for hours.

    1. FTW LMAO…

    2. Eh, If your ‘hood is dense enough, you still hear the damn thing all afternoon. I do.

      (But don’t think I didn’t laugh my ass off, well played sir.)

  22. What do people in the Amazon eat, anyway? I’m guessing mostly cassava, fish, and the various kinds of bizarre fruit that grow down there.

    1. In Soviet Amazon, cassava eat YOU.

      1. The Kulina are also known for their complex language. FUNAI studies show that Kulina women speak a completely different language from the men.

        So how’s that different from everyone else?

        1. The Kulina openly acknowledge the fact?

  23. The Onion covered this better in a Point-Counterpoint.

    http://www.theonion.com/articl…..ich,11539/

  24. You could say protecting the world from evil confectioners is Michele Simon’s raisinet d’etre.

    1. Booooo…. someone get the hook.

      1. Not gonna stand for any punny business, eh?

  25. I watched a documentary on those Amazonian savages, and, to my horror, many were wearing t-shirts and jeans. One was even wearing a baseball cap!!!!

    Big Food will finish what Big Clothes started.

    1. Yeah, but I bet they were discarded wrong champion shirts, like “Super Bowl XLII Patriots 19-0” or “NY Yankees 2003 World Series Champs!”

      1. *applause*

  26. Ice in the amazon….

    and not one Mosquito Coast reference.

    sad.

    1. We live in a Post-Theroux society.

    2. I still want to nail Helen Mirren.

  27. I’m thinking I need to invest in Nestle. They are obviously hustling to grow their business instead of just throwing up their hands, blaming the economy, and asking for a government handout.

    1. This…This is making insanely good sense to me.

    2. N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestl?’s makes the very best. . .choc-late.

    3. “N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestl?’s makes the very best. . .choc-late.”

      And dead babies! Whoo hoo! That’s a company I gotta invest in1

  28. I vote for “grocerybarge”.

    1. Play Free Barge!

      1. *reference-detector failure*

        1. “Free Bird” is a song by Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Free Barge” is a play on that song and the barge being discussed herein.

          1. What’s your name, little Barge, What’s your name?

  29. I seem to recall Tony Bourdain doing one of his shows somewhere in the Amazon (or someplace equally remote and poor in South America), waxing poetic about the simple life of living in one of those fishing villages, and one of the guys he’s with sneering, “you can have it!”

    I always respected him for keeping that in the show.

  30. It’s out of our reach. We leftist cant control it. This is part of Nestle’s nefarious scheme to profit after we get them banned in the USA. It makes me so angry! We were so close to destroying them and all like them, and now so much farther to go.

  31. Die, sugar, Die! Die! Die! Die!

    You give people a false sense of happiness when real happiness can only come from dedicating one’s self to the Worker’s Paradise!

    Die! Die! Die!

    Death to sweets!

  32. Did they drag the boat over a hill? Amateurs!

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