Quote of the Week: Bittman Asks the Wrong Questions

There are food elitists, and then there is Mark Bittman of The New York Times. He raised some eyebrows with his recent call for the government to further regulate what can be bought with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, otherwise known as food stamps. More scarily, he argued that changing the basket of allowable items in SNAP should be “part of the bigger question”; namely, regulating what he called “dangerous foods.”

To back that up, the Times’s food-snob-in-residence argued that sugar was “habit-forming” and asked only whether Robert Lustig’s proposed draconian sugar regulations were “necessary.” That caught the eye of Reason magazine writer and longtime consumer-choice defender Jacob Sullum, who argues that in a free country that’s the wrong question to ask. Instead, he argues that one should ask whether such regulations are legitimate uses of government power. Sullum also hits Bittman for his (well-documented) elitism:

[…] Bittman suggests that people are addicted to sugar, which he thinks means they have no choice but to consume it and therefore must be rescued from this self-destructive habit by benign overseers like him […] Bittman knows that we do not really want to eat sugar, or at least that we should not want to eat sugar, which in his mind is more or less the same thing.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Bittman has dabbled with the bogus “food addiction” theory. (Nobody’s holding up the corner store for a chocolate fix.) And of course, there’s no reason to believe Bittman and the rest of the food police will stop if they get sugary food out of SNAP.

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