Culture Challenge of the Week: The Food Police
Food is in the news. Specifically, the food that Big Government wants you—or your children--to eat.
It started with Michelle Obama’s headline grab: in 2010, she launched a new initiative to combat childhood obesity. It’s a worthwhile campaign—childhood obesity is something parents ought to be concerned about, for their children’s sakes. According to official reports, one in three children is obese or overweight. And the resulting medical costs of obesity-related medical problems adds up to a nearly $150 billion problem each year.
But as childhood obesity has become the First Lady’s signature issue, it’s assumed the air of “government knows best,” rather than empowering parents to make informed decisions about what’s best for their families. When she launched the effort, Mrs. Obama declared, “We want to eliminate this problem of childhood obesity in a generation. We want to get that done.”
Who, exactly, is “we”?
The government. From its inception, Mrs. Obama’s campaign has left government fingerprints suggesting a pattern of reaching as far into children’s lives as possible, with typical government tools: money, regulations, and bureaucracy. To support his wife’s campaign, President Obama originally promised to reauthorize the school lunch program, and expand its budget by 10 billion over 10 years. (The food wars—fought by potato-lobbyists and frozen-food purveyors—plus budget constraints, produced new school lunch regulations that add an estimated 3.2 billion dollars to the program’s costs.) These regulations control everything from portion size to ingredients to food selection. But, to no one’s surprise, government food regulations don’t solve the problem.