Food Industry

The Government Should Dictate Our Diet (Updated)

med some foodies and libertarians recently by banning food ingredients in order to make it healthier. Should the government be allowed to dictate what we can and cannot eat?

It all started with trans fats. Plucked from relative obscurity a few years back, trans fats quickly became Public Enemy No. 1, leading to several cities and states banning their use and fast food restaurants removing them from their lists of ingredients. Then came the Happy Meal ban, in which the city of San Francisco banned the inclusion of toys in calorie, fat, and sodium-laden kid's meals. Now Weight Watchers, the original mainstream diet plan, has also changed its recipes to become more nutritiously sound. And today the House is expected to pass a bill overhauling the school lunch system. There has been no such reform in the past 30 years. (Update: The house passed the bill, in a strong show of force for departing Democrats.)

And the Army has decided to step into this war against our country's growing waistlines and increasing cases of heart disease and diabetes. Authorities have concluded the menu of cookies and cola isn't the best diet to feed the men and women defending our country. The cola fountains in Army mess halls will be replaced with juice and milk stations, and simple carbs such as white bread and pasta are being changed to whole grain.

It's about time. Mind you, I am the first to rage against the machine, after all, as a Hispanic, a woman, and a lesbian, I am a trifecta of marginalization. This is not really a matter of personal liberties, however. The fact is that it should be illegal to include poison in food products.

There are chemicals in food. Chemicals, people. Our government long ago decided that food manufacturers could cut corners by throwing in a bunch of non-organic or unhealthy ingredients into their products. Should beverages that can dissolve acid off a car battery really be on the market? Shouldn't a government regulate food so that only safe and natural ingredients are consumed by its residents?

We tend to find out about these things after we have already become accustomed to using these items. Then of course, most of us are too lazy, busy, apathetic, or ignorant, to change. Myself included.

If we act like children who would choose dessert over dinner, maybe it's time to have an "adult" step in and slap our hand away from the cookie jar. It is not our fault that we have become addicted to salty, fatty, artificial foods It is the fact that the FDA hasn't changed its legislation since the 1930s.

If the FDA had said "no" to rat turds and "no" to hydrogenated oils, we probably wouldn't be in our current diabetic, obese predicament. I'm not saying we should ban salt, or fat in general, but chemicals and waste should definitely be kept out of food products. And items that are known to be extremely unhealthy and contribute to our growing obesity and health care crises, should be limited. The fact is that if there were no bad choices available, we wouldn't have been making them. But, when it comes to righting wrongs, I say better late than never. And if corporations and the government are suddenly developing a conscience, then I say "hoorah!" After all, I don't have health insurance.

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Ily Goyanes
Contact: Ily Goyanes