Tuesday, the New York City Board of Health heard Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban the sale of soft drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces at the city’s delis, fast-food restaurants, and sports arenas. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which proposed the ban, is still flying high after the release of its study demonstrating the success of the trans-fat ban in reducing fat intake. I guess the agency likes to live up to its name- what’s an agency devoted to mental hygiene for but to scrub our desires clean.
For the record, I generally avoid soda and don’t eat fried foods, potato chips, donuts, or cake because they don’t taste good to me. Fried okra is the exception because it’s divine. I consume loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats because I like them. I would eat them if they turned out to be toxic, fat producing, brain damaging garbage.
I’m one of those free range chicken owning, beekeeping, organic gardening girls who works out every chance she gets. I’m also a libertarian and am appalled by the idea of illegal food. The hand wringing over obesity craze has gone too far. You know—the patronizing speeches, the cable network specials, even the use of the word “epidemic” as if pie was an airborne pathogen. How is anyone’s weight anyone else’s business? How is this not about thin people jeering at fat people. Suddenly I’m back in a middle school locker room.
Bloomberg justifies his soda size limit saying “We’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things. We’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.”
Forcing us? He’s right about one thing, only government has recourse to force. Your mom can give you the “Do you really need that second helping?” look but she can’t levy a fine against your family deli. She can’t shut down your restaurant for selling supersized soda and trans-fat soaked French fries. Only government can make food illegal. In a free country, that’s just wrong.
Unfortunately, you can expect more mind scrubbing. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is launching a “voluntary” program for small grocers—bodegas—to “minimize the availability of junk food.” I see where this is headed. Eventually the government will be telling retailers what they can and cannot sell. A Brave New World is just around the corner.