Food activists are in a frenzy over the new dietary guidelines issued last week by the USDA and the HHS. Busybody foodie types (with far too much time on their hands) have spent days reviewing this historic document which tells Americans to….wait for it…eat less.
Of course, no one is asking just why the U.S. government spends our tax dollars to tell people totally obvious things. But I suppose we’ve all gotten used to our tax dollars being wasted. Some in the food world would argue (wrongly) that the welfare of the population is well within the federal area of responsibility and others would (again, wrongly) argue that issuing guidelines is a perfectly acceptable thing for the federal government to do.
I, of course, disagree for several reasons. The most obvious being that telling people what to eat isn’t in the constitution. But, since the constitution matters little to many in the Administration, perhaps a more persuasive argument might be that the government simply doesn’t need to perform this task anymore. The reason? Everyone else is already doing it. It’s a booming, billion dollar industry in this country.
Just take a moment to consider the ubiquitous television shows on weight loss and nutrition. The endless number of finger-pointing talk show hosts either on a diet or talking about which diet is the best. Just glance at the shelves in your local grocery store to see how much real estate is dedicated to the diet foods. Eating less and eating healthy food is being drilled into the American psyche. Maybe that’s why obesity rates have leveled off in the last decade.
Want some more proof that the USDA needs to retire the food pyramid and stop providing food guidelines? How about this charming quote from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack who said this at last week’s press conference on the new guidelines: “I must admit personally that I never read the dietary guidelines until I got this job.”
So, in other words, Secretary Vilsack had to be paid to read the USDA dietary guidelines. Hey, there’s an idea for a new federal program…