We think we’ve heard just about every argument for food paternalism that exists. From organic movement leaders saying that we need to “go on [their] feelings,” animal rights nuts sounding a little nutty, environmentalists demanding vegetarianism to save the planet, and overzealous researchers declaring food tasty heroin, the list of reasons activists give for seizing and regulating our dinner plates is endless. But just in time for the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) “sugary drinks summit” (because you just might have latent good feelings for soda, sinners!), the meddlers have given us another argument to eviscerate.
In The New York Times, a biologist argues that we’ve evolved to need coercion. Apparently, Nanny Bloomberg is a benevolent entity keeping “the food industry” from capitalizing on “our Stone Age bodies.” He proposes that we “collectively restore our diets to a more natural state through regulations.” (That sounds like Michael Jacobson’s idea. Wait, it basically is.)
Jacobson’s own crew at CSPI, in league with Kelly “Twinkie Tax” Brownell’s band of busybodies at Yale’s Rudd Center, are also laying the groundwork for an escalation of their campaigns against our favorite beverages. Unsurprisingly, CSPI and the Rudd Center think it’s a problem that people associate soft drinks with “[the] terms energy, relaxed, comfortable and friends” and “all-American culture.”
And don’t think diet sodas (or even 100 percent fruit juices) are safe from the regulator’s arm or the activist tar and feathers. George Hacker of CSPI (those preferring an adult beverage may remember him) told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “Even when [companies] promote their diet sodas or their intermediate sodas, they are still promoting the brand name and normalizing the consumption of their drinks.” Translation: If you drink diet, you’re an enabler.
As for the argument that we should be regulated back into a natural state, it’s easy to note that life in the “more natural state” was infamously “nasty, brutish, and short”. It’s also easy to note that fundamental principles of the modern life like modern medicine, representative government, labor-saving mechanization, and women’s rights aren’t derived from the “natural state” but from human reason and ingenuity. Oh, and we’ve “evolved” to enjoy, even to excess, many things besides food. Should we regulate them all back to a “more natural state”?
Of course, this argument is groundless. People enjoy a sweet beverage because they like sweet beverages. Allowing the government to regulate people because evolutionary impulses may lead to undesired results opens the door to regulating anything pleasurable.