Want Less Government Meddling in Our Diets? Fine, Stop Subsidizing Unhealthy Food First.

Categories: Complaint Desk

Corn Syrup.jpg
The Los Angeles Times published an op-ed today calling for less government meddling in our dietary choices. Julie Gunlock's piece questions whether recent state controls regarding food labeling, bans on trans fat and taxes on unhealthy foods are really fitting for a country of free citizens with a limited government.

The argument isn't new, but New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's recent ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces, which will take effect in five months unless the courts intervene, seems to have particularly inflamed the foodie freedom fighters.

Gunlock lists other atrocities beyond the soda ban, including New York's ban on trans fat, liquor laws in general and requirements for warnings regarding undercooked meats, but in pointing out the "sin tax" that's moved beyond cigarettes and alcohol to special taxes on sodas in four U.S. states, Gunlock seems especially tone-deaf.

The problem with Gunlock's argument is it ignores the "sin subsidies" that have been in place since economic turmoil plagued American farmers in the 1920s and 1930s. The government has been meddling with our food supply for nearly a century now by giving farmers incentives to grow the corn, soybeans and other crops that have fueled the fast food and sugar industries that lead to our raging obesity problem.

Why are we suddenly so mad about it now? And why is it OK to meddle with the economics that steer the decisions of massive corporate farms, but not enact small fiscal incentives that gently push American consumers to make healthier decisions on their own behalf?

According to Gunlock, Americans should be making their own food and health choices, but she advocates against the very labels that would help those consumers make informed decisions. She also completely ignores the fact that the obesity problem centers not on the people who have the means to choose between a Big Mac with super-sized fries and a $12 wrap from a boutique salad restaurant, but on the people who live in food deserts who have few choices in what they eat every day.

When the subsidies that fueled the ingredients that helped create our obesity crises began, they were enacted to stabilize commodity markets and protect the family farmer. Those measures worked beautifully in the short term but they've backfired over the decades as corporate farms bought up smaller farms and subsequently gobbled up all the subsidies. Our government admits there's a growing obesity problem while they subsidize the ingredients that go into the products that make us fat.

I'm all for less government in my food chain. Lets get rid of rules that ban raw milk consumption, let burger stands serve their ground beef bloody, let people drink whatever, wherever they want, and hell, let's let them smoke a whole bunch of pot too. But before we turn ourselves loose in the Hostess aisles of our local Walmarts with a 7-Eleven Super Big Gulp in hand, let's get rid of all the excess corn syrup and vegetable oil we stocked the shelves with first.


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18 comments
primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

primi_timpano 4 hours ago

I give up. Again. This post was somehow deleted, so:

This posting software sucks. Let fat people get obese, let them ride grocery store scoters, camp out at Parkland for obesity treatment, increase the cost of health care and make the purveyors of fatty, salty Food products rich. They can have their "freedom" so long as they don't make others pay for it. Tax the sugar, oils, fats and salt. And tax the added weight these human cattle carry about.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

So you want them to have more freedom as long as it's regarding products you (or the general food writer trope) approve of? You can't have it both ways without coming across holier-than-thou. The government backing off and allowing raw milk or getting the FDA to relax temperatures or whatever your foodie cause may be also allows the peons to buy the products that gets your panties in a bunch.

Eating better comes with education. Snobbish food writing doesn't help. Enjoy your bloody hamburger all you want, just don't stick your pinky out and your nose in the air about it if someone barely scraping by chooses differently.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

After this, it's gonna be legislating morality.......BIG BROTHER is coming, and he is pissed.! He is a black hole of semi socialism, mostly neo-feudalism that feeds the top tier, and throws the rest of us by the wayside.  Freedom is doing whatever the f+ck you want. 

jonfromtjs
jonfromtjs

100x yes.  mark bittman said the exact same thing when he was in town. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

this commenting system makes me want to mainline meth, acid and several cheap bottles of scotch!

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

I give up. This posting software sucks. Let fat people get obese, let them ride grocery store scoters, camp out at Parkland for obesity treatment, increase the cost of health care and make the purveyors of fatty, salty Food products rich. They can have their "freedom" so long as they don't make others pay for it. Tax the sugar, oils, fats and salt. And tax the added weight these human cattle carry about.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@kergo1spaceship Most Americans wouldn't know what to do with freedom if they had it. Which, incidentally, they don't.

I think this guy said it best:

"The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty — and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies."

~H.L. Mencken~

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@kergo1spaceship Most folks wouldn't know what to do with freedom if they had it. Which they don't. This guy said it best, I think:

"The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty — and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies."

H.L. Mencken

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

@monstruss Your OPINION is it's garbage. And just because the government subsidizes the plant it also doesn't mean every bit of subsidized corn turns into high fructose corn syrup, a product that isn't harmful if the person consuming it has a clue how to eat properly. It's asinine logic and it reads more of someone attempting to get page views or trying to build cred with the same self-congratulatory food writing crowd that will decry this but tell us how delicious potatoes fried in duck fat is, because that's soooooo much different than getting fries from an evil fast food outlet.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

@monstruss Reading for comprehension, slick. I said nothing about subsidies yay or nay, I merely brought up HFCS as an example of something that is frequently labeled as "garbage" by ignorant people.

monstruss
monstruss

@Scruffygeist @monstruss For someone who has such a bullshit libertarian view of high fructose corn syrup, you sure do have a problem with cutting government corn subsidies. 

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

@scott.reitz @primi_timpano

Scott, accept and surrender. Accept Mrs Dash and chopped chiles, and surrender the salt.

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