It’s time to call the exterminator. Capitol Hill is becoming infested with nutrition zealots who aim to restrict our food choices — namely, the self-described “food police” at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Today CSPI diet scold Margo Wootan hosted a press conference with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). Assorted media assembled to watch them demonize school vending machines and promote Sen. Harkin’s bill designed to increase federal control over children’s diets. Harkin’s plan has already been dubbed “legislative lunacy” by one commentator, but the craziness is bound to escalate proportionally with CSPI’s ever-growing presence in the halls of Congress. Their increasing influence on federal legislators should alarm anyone with taste buds, a fondness of food, and a basic understanding of personal responsibility.
It wasn’t long ago that CSPI held a similar press conference featuring Senator Harkin to announce his plan for mandatory menu labeling in restaurants. At that event, Harkin described his legislation as merely a “first step.” A first step to what? Well, if CSPI has any say in the matter (and judging by its cozy relationship with Harkin, that seems likely) this “first step” may lead us down the road to CSPI-favored policies like fat taxes and obesity lawsuits.
CSPI is firmly entrenched on the House side of the Hill as well. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has unleashed a plan, similar to Harkin’s, to pin menu labeling mandates on restaurants. The language in DeLauro’s bill was nearly identical to CSPI’s model legislation on the topic. And in an effort to drum up support for her Big Brother scheme, DeLauro circulated a “dear colleague” letter that lifted whole paragraphs from a CSPI memo.
In her testimony before the Senate last month, CSPI’s Wootan called for marketing restrictions, complained about generous portion sizes, and blamed restaurants for causing weight gain. Perhaps its time to fumigate congressional corridors before CSPI exterminates our food choices.