Two interesting developments that caught our attention this week, one from each coast.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Land Use Committee voted 3-0 in favor of an ordinance to limit toy giveaways in children’s meals that have excessive calories, sodium and fat. If the measure passes a vote of the full Board in the coming weeks, San Francisco will become the first city in the nation to take such action. read more…
And in New York:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg sought federal permission on Wednesday to bar New York City’s 1.7 million recipients of food stamps from using them to buy soda or other sugared drinks.
The request, made to the United States Department of Agriculture, which finances and sets the rules for the food-stamp program, is part of an aggressive anti-obesity push by the mayor that has also included advertisements, stricter rules on food sold in schools and an unsuccessful attempt to have the state impose a tax on the sugared drinks. read more…
These measures would have seemed unfathomable just 10 or 20 years ago. They could even be deemed anti-constitutional: why would the (local) government want to intervene in people’s food and beverage choices? Or in McDonald’s Corporation Happy Meal kiddie loyalty program?
But when you read the current obesity stats, you realize something’s gotta give. With 40% on New York City kids overweight or obese, and the national average hovering around 30% (and growing) we are in a size-able state of emergency.
We like the San Francisco measures because junk food and fast food companies are tempting our kids with branded toys to get them to pressure parents to buy their unhealthy and fattening food. Great profit making tactic, but really annoying if you are a parent. Yes, it’s true, happy meals do have one healthier option with sliced apple for dessert. But the small fraction of healthy options that are actually purchased by consumers are proof that the meat of the business is selling obesity causing crap to families.
Regarding New York’s food stamps, we have an uneasy feeling on this matter. On the one hand it doesn’t make sense for taxpayer money to support the purchase of obesity causing soft drinks. But on the other hand, it stigmatizes people who are already unfortunate enough to be needing food stamps in the first place. It would be much wiser to create a positive incentive and subsidize the healthier foods in the supermarket for this population, than to tell people what they are not allowed to buy.
Regardless, we commend the bold steps that are generally in the right direction. They are adding more and more critical mass to a revolution in this country’s entire food system.
A revolution that prioritizes healthy eating habits over fast ultracheap junk.
A revolution that transfers subsidy money from corn and soy to fruits and vegetables.
A revolution where spending time in the kitchen preparing a meal is back in vogue.
A revolution that will slim down our kids.
A revolution that can’t arrive a moment too soon.
(Thanks Markie McBrayer for the hat tip on SF’s vote.)