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Land of the Free Does Not Apply to Food


This week we celebrate our nation’s freedom. We will fly our flags and set off our fireworks in celebration of the founding of the United States and the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It is an interesting fact of history that one of the first things we did after throwing off the yoke of British rule and military occupation was to create a federal government that started putting limits on personal freedom. Last week the USDA continued that effort by taking away freedom of choice for students attending public schools. A year ago USDA put restrictions of the kind of food that was served in school lunchrooms, now they have placed limits on what food can be sold in schools outside of the lunch line.


U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says the nation’s students will have healthier food options during the school day under USDA’s new Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. USDA was required to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The targets of the new restrictions are soft drinks, candy, and chips — products with high sugar, fat, or salt levels.  The justification for these new rules is the health of the children. Yet, ironically, “standards only affect foods that are sold on school campus during the school day. Foods sold at afterschool sporting events or other activities will not be subject to these requirements,” according to a USDA release.


Statements from top administration officials reveal the “we know what is best for you” philosophy that the government’s increasing restrictions on consumer food choices demonstrate. First Lady Michelle Obama said in the statement, “Unfortunately, we don’t always have control over the snacks our kids have access to when they’re away from home. That’s why, as a mom myself, I am so excited that schools will now be offering healthier choices to students and reinforcing the work we do at home to help our kids stay healthy.”  Perhaps if she taught her kids good eating habits and personal responsibility, they would be able to make their own healthy food choices.


That is what is the real issue: parents not teaching their kids good eating habits or even modeling those habits themselves. This gives the nanny state the justification for taking away personal choices.  Yet, there are indications that consumers are getting fed up with being told what they can and cannot eat. Last month, a Gallup poll determined that 69% of Americans would not vote for portion control in soft drinks. This echoes findings by the Associated Press that showed wide opposition to the food police’s “fat tax” efforts. According to the Center for Consumer Freedom, “The American people don’t want to be policed and the polling, votes, and judicial decisions have shown it. The soda fear-mongers should take a hint, get off of their high horse, and take our advice and enjoy a nice gulp of freedom.”


I also found it interesting that, at the same time Washington was expelling sodas and snacks from school, Congress rejected efforts to modify the US sugar program which keeps the price of sugar artificially high. They also could not agree on how to reform the SNAP program which allows those on food stamps to use government funds to purchase sodas and snacks.


So this July 4th holiday, celebrate our freedom by eating your favorite foods — in moderation — while you still can.


-Gary Truitt