Writing an opinion piece on the current problems that plague humanity (global warming, obesity, etc.), one professor at London’s Centre for Food Policy layed out the food cop mantra in a single sentence: “Consumer choice has increased massively, but choice is part of the problem, not part of the solution.” The author then went on to list various ways in which the government can step in and save us from ourselves.
One of these over-the-top proposals included a plan to mandate special food labels that display the amount of water needed to produce them. For instance, one pint of beer requires about 20 gallons of water to produce. Activists argue that if consumers saw how much water brewers use to make a six pack, then beer lovers will forego their favorite drink. (This “water labeling” sounds eerily similar to another food cop brainchild.)
Despite lofty claims by labeling advocates, there’s no proof that any of these regulations will positively impact any of their targeted problems (global warming, obesity, etc.) — a fact that’s especially true for menu labeling proposals. But that’s not stopping activists from lobbying them at the local and state level.
Though consumer choice might seem like common sense, food cops are constantly campaigning to convince lawmakers and the public that it’s not. This is the reason we’re always countering that message, reminding Americans that they’re smart enough to decide what they eat without government interference. Just this week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the San Jose Mercury News have published Consumer Freedom’s message. And in the Bakersfield Californian, we reminded readers of their right to guilt-free dining:
A report about obesity policy released this week by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy dismisses health measures that focus on personal responsibility or exercise. Boiled down, the group’s message reads: “Americans simply can’t be trusted with the complex task of feeding themselves.”
While this kind of rhetoric seems outrageous to most of us, it’s becoming increasingly common among activist groups like CCPHA. The “policy recommendations” section of its report included almost a half-dozen new regulations, including fast-food zoning restrictions and menu-labeling mandates. These are consistent with other measures that aim to give bureaucrats control of everything we eat. Think about recent lawsuits against parents of obese children, “sin” taxes on tasty foods and Girl Scout cookie boycotts.
CCPHA’s president even suggested that the Environmental Protection Agency should define some restaurants as “environmental toxins.” But the real toxic element here is an unhealthy, activist-driven public obsession with “junk” food, which redirects energies away from programs that encourage exercise — and toward ineffective government control of our food choices.