Organizing Toolkit: Taking on Big Soda

Connecting the dots on sugar and reclaiming real food for our communities.

Industrial agriculture and processed food corporations are flooding supermarket shelves with seemingly endless choice. But this abundance of packaged products and sugary drinks is deceiving. In reality, we lack real choice: the choice for fresh, local, and far more nutritious foods.

Around the world, roughly 2 billion people are overweight, consuming too many calories from unhealthy sources driving a global public health crisis. One of the biggest culprits? Sugar and sugary drinks pushed by a handful of big corporations, with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo in the lead. These brands, which many have dubbed Big Soda, spend billions every year on a range of marketing and political tactics—including advertising, lobbying, and free trade agreements—to expand their reach in the United States and around the world.

These tactics are reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s decades-long fight against regulation and public education about the dangers of smoking. Like Big Tobacco, Big Soda has a vested interest in increasing sugary drink consumption despite the tragic and costly public health consequences. Like the tobacco industry, Big Soda markets aggressively, especially to young people and communities of color.

The good news? People power everywhere is taking on Big Soda. Strategies like soda tax campaigns, spearheaded by the communities most affected by health disparities, are spreading and making big wins. As part of a range of community-based strategies to reclaim our food systems, soda taxes have been successful in reducing consumption and generating revenues to support public health.

The resources in this toolkit will help you organize a fun and engaging film viewing event, shine a light on Big Soda’s tactics, explore people-powered strategies, and provide recipe ideas to counter Big Soda’s influence in our lives.

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