An Essay on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

Regulation of Food
by Harriet Morgan (Apr 2010)


            Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity are running rampant in our country (and world wide).  Because diet has a lot to do with these life threatening events, there have been various efforts to regulate what we choose to eat.  A certain amount of regulation is currently in effect, but I do not believe we should increase our regulation of diets, foods, or sources to promote better nutrition and, hence, better health.  Why?  (1)Attempts by the government to regulate what and how we eat threaten to take away our freedom of choice, which we all cherish, and (2) regulation doesnít work!

            The American public doesnít like to be told what to do and, especially, they donít want the government to control them.  One example of this would be taxes on cigarettes.  I have known a few people who have quit smoking due to the cost, but more have given up the habit, or tried to quit, because of education on the health dangers of smoking.  The mind-set of Iíll do what I want and nobody is going to tell me what to do is very prevalent among smokers. 

            This same attitude can be seen in our children in the elementary school's nutritious lunch program that is regulated by the federal government.  Just go to any elementary school cafeteria and notice all of the food being thrown away.  The students donít eat it.  I donít support doing away with the program as it currently stands, but I donít believe any more drastic action would be more successful.      

            Personally, I have several health conditions that I control completely or partially with diet.  My allergies are no longer a problem since I started taking a tablespoon or two of locally grown honey each morning.  Several years ago I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  The treatment?  ďNo sugarĒ as stated by my doctor.  It is impossible to eat NO sugar (witness the daily honey on a ďno sugarď diet.), but I eat very little.  I have found that both of these requirements cost more money than if I were eating the way I had previously eaten.  If I want to buy a can of peaches, I pay more for the natural (no sugar added) than I would for the peaches in heavy syrup.  (Fresh peaches are even more expensive.)  Cost doesnít seem to be a factor in changing the way I eat.  Consequently, I believe extra taxes on foods with little or no nutritional value would not deter people from eating these foods, if thatís what they want. 

              Oxford researchers stated that a tax on junk food  (a ďfat taxĒ) would unfairly effect the poor because they spend a higher percentage of their income on food and fattening foods are cheaper.  There have been a few other studies on the subject of a fat tax and itís success.  The results seem to be mixed. 

            I have heard of schools putting nutritious snacks, such as juice drinks and cheese snacks, veggies and fresh fruits, in vending machines.  A much better choice than soda pop, candy, and chips that are usually found in vending machines.  This would be one increase in regulation that I would embrace.  Iím sure it would only work if just the healthy choices were available.     

            All in all, it is the opinion of this author that people need more education rather than more government intervention.  If one isnít convinced that something is truly harmful, he wonít change his eating habits.   Itís not really possible to save people from themselves!

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