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Friday, October 29, 2004

Safeway and Co-op - Come Halloween time, they do their bit for obesity

Linda Oswald, Canada Safeway's head spin-doctor set up the Safeway Foundation some years ago. "Our commitment to healthy living includes ... nutrition education and assistance to those in need of nutritious food," proclaims Oswald on the Safeway Foundation's web page.

"Where are the healthy Halloween treats?" inquired our investigative reporter, the Old Timer from Pincher Creek, last Monday. In a visit to the Halloween counter of a Northwest Calgary Safeway store, the The Old Timer found mounds of junk food (cheese, chips and sugar) but not an orange, not even a raisin, let alone a sesame bar.

The Safeway clerk couldn't believe what he'd heard. "Sorry, sir, what did you want?"

"I'm looking for healthy Halloween treats - what aisle can I find them at?"

"Sir, there's no such thing. Healthy Halloween treats - that's an oxymoron. You can't have healthy Halloween treats. All treats are candy, sir"

"Haven't you heard of North America's epidemic of obesity?" ranted the Old Timer, "Even the B.C. government has kicked junk food dealers out of its schools. Fat people all over North America have set up Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. Urban planners are planning communities to get people away from sedentary lifestyles. So you don't carry any healthy Halloween treats at all?"

"Of course not." And the clerk's look made the Old Timer feel, himself, like an oxymoron.

Linda Oswald has an important, important sounding (Vice President Public Relations and Government Affairs), and challenging job. Oswald has to put the spin on the bland tomatoes Safeway grows on Safeway farms in California and fobs off on Calgarians. And on how Safeway sells its customers meat for $6.00 per pound - meat that was purchased from producers for 50 cents a pound. And Oswald is pelted with charges from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who've accused Safeway of selling the meat of abused animals. And former employees who say it's dangerous to work at Safeway. And lots more. But then, add in a little hypocrisy and that's what spin doctoring is all about.

Footnote: Nor could the Old Timer find one orange, one raisin, one sesame bar at Calgary Co-op's Halloween Counter. Is that what the Co-op movement is all about?



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