Americans are surrounded by ridiculous warnings: strollers that remind parents to "remove child before folding," microwaves that caution against using the device to dry a cell phone, and tea bags that instruct consumers to "start with clean water." But California State Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) has taken stating the obvious to a whole new level, by proposing warning labels to remind us that food contains calories.
When Migden’s menu labeling bill passed the state Senate yesterday, we told the Associated Press that "America has gotten to the point where we have warning labels on just about everything. We don’t need government to tell us the difference between salad and a 12-piece bucket of chicken."
Overzealous food police like Migden seem conveniently unaware of the fact that Americans already have unprecedented access to information about food. Consumers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on diet and health books each year. The nightly news reports on a steady stream of weight and nutrition studies. And most popular restaurants — the very same ones targeted by Migden’s legislation — provide a detailed breakdown of menu items through web sites, brochures, posters, and even 1-800 numbers.
Paradoxically, our nation’s expanding waistline has matched pace with the ever-growing bounty of food facts. Will requiring chain restaurants that already provide nutrition information to paste it all over their menus really help?
It’s motivation, not information, that dieters lack when selecting French fries over carrot sticks.