Standing Up Against Food Regulatory Absurdities

These are difficult days for Americans’ food freedom. A Nevada state legislator has resurrected a proposal for a fast food tax, researchers writing in the journal of the Centers for Disease Control — now led by NYC’s former top food cop — consider banning buffets and drive-thrus, and New York City is in the process of banning sodas larger than 16 ounces—a proposal that is already catching on elsewhere. The only thing that might make this all worse would be if an animal rights activist held the title of federal “regulatory czar.” Oh wait, one does.

But the tasty dinner plate is not yet lost. We weren’t the only ones to notice that New York City’s health bureaucracy wants to expand Michael Bloomberg’s portion-size prohibition on sodas and to say — loosely — “We told you latte-swilling elitists so.” In today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch, the editors take the mayor to task for setting a tasteless precedent:

[T]he project of making city residents obey the city government’s idea of what a healthy person should do will not be able to stop with soda, popcorn and milkshakes. It will have to continue until the city dictates the caloric content of just about every food item sold outside the vegetable aisle. (Even a can of pineapple packs nearly 500 calories — almost all of it sugar.)

Therein lies the absurdity of attacking single foods as a method of weight control. Soft drinks, the target of Bloomberg’s portion-size prohibition, only account for seven percent of our daily calories.

What stops future food cops from attacking the other 93 percent? C.S. Lewis famously warned that “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” The busybodies’ armies may mass in formation against soda today, but we can see which tasty morsels are next in line.

The animal rights activists at PETA would jump at the chance to “liberate” Bessie and end meat and dairy by suing Old MacDonald. Their fellow travelers at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which is not your local pet shelter, want to price meat and eggs out of our reach so that evangelical vegetarians can “reduce the number of animals raised for food.” And the “public health” activists know no bounds at all, targeting everything from fruit juice to cereal to cookies.

But the silver lining is that people are standing up for their consumer freedoms. Over 60 percent of Americans surveyed in recent Rasmussen national polls opposed portion-size Prohibition and junk food taxes. If Americans hold the line, we might still enjoy the pleasures of eating and drinking however we choose.

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