Cheese is “morphine on a cracker,” according to Neal Barnard, president of the animal-rights group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Whether it’s parody or not, a new public service announcement funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture slips dangerously close to that absurd position — and seems to make the troubling link between childhood drug use and childhood obesity. The announcer intones: “You’ve talked to your kids about drugs and alcohol. You even got through the conversation about sex. Now isn’t it time you talked to them about lunch?” (To view: follow the link, click on the “School Daze” commercial, and enter “Network” in the password field.) The offending food featured in the commercial is a slice of pepperoni pizza.
Taking aim at the government’s condescending concentration on our national girth, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call offers a helpful, terrorism-style “Color-Coded Food Pyramid Alert System” — replete with green, blue, yellow, orange, and red threat levels. Of course, ridiculous warning labels are no joke to Center for Science in the Public Interest president Michael Jacobson. Speaking at a press conference last year, he proposed:
… special consumer alerts, little symbols on foods that contain more than a given percentage of the daily value of saturated fat … How about a notice on soft drinks, reminding people to limit themselves to just one?
Of course, Jacobson also recommends a “little symbol, a smiling Uncle Sam or whatever,” for food-cop-approved items. That may sound absurd, but it’s a lot less ridiculous than making inappropriate links between food and illegal drugs.