Originally published in the Washington Examiner by Will Coggin on January 30, 2019:
Is food the new tobacco? Most people would recognize the obvious difference. But a new report in the British science journal the Lancet is calling for a global treaty to tackle the “negative health and environmental effects of the food system,” citing the World Health Organization’s framework for tobacco control as a model.
Another new report published in the same journal this month, and with similarly stark language, claims global food production is “threatening local ecosystems and the stability of the Earth system.” The international commission that authored the report calls for a “Great Food Transformation,” which includes halving the global consumption of red meat and doubling the production of nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, among other sustainability strategies. The “Transformation” would be promoted by everything from mildly obnoxious public awareness campaigns to draconian government policies that interfere with your culinary choices.
Some of the ideas floated include a sin tax on soda and sugar and a moratorium on the development of any new agricultural land. Additionally, local authorities in low-income areas might “restrict unhealthy food outlets.”
How might that look? The United Kingdom has just proposed policing the exact calorie counts of prepared foods that restaurants, supermarkets, and other outlets can serve. A standard pizza, for instance, would be capped at 928 calories. Another enforcement proposal could involve restrictive zoning laws that prevent entrepreneurs from opening restaurants.
Overall, the recommendations constitute perhaps the most radical degree of central planning in human history. But not only would this top-down meal planning scheme fail, it is also based on faulty premises.