For the past several years the Food Police have been doing their best to ban foods in schools and other public places. They are losing.
The Food Police have been making noise for a long time now. Through fear, coercion and campaigns of mis-information the Foodies have been trying to browbeat people into changing their eating habits. Foods have been banned and proposals have been made to ban even more types of food, and some politicians have proposed penalizing overweight folks and limiting/banning fast food restaurants from opening in certain neighborhoods.
All of these efforts to legislate people’s behavior will fail, as they have failed in the past. From the outlawing of alcohol back during Prohibition to trying to enforce laws pertaining to marijuana and other recreational drugs, the message is clear that people’s will to engage in these kinds of behaviors cannot be abrogated.
Entrepreneurial little buggers provide the latest illustration of this from Victorville, CA who, thanks to the statewide ban of the sale of sweets in schools, have created a nice underground business selling candy and energy drinks to their middle school buddies. There’s no doubt that before long more legislation will be enacted to punish these “Sugarleggers,” thereby wasting even more time and energy on a “problem” that can’t be solved via legislation.
A favorite short story of mine – especially in the face of the Food Police’s efforts – has always been “Lipidleggin” by F. Paul Wilson. Back in 1978 a forward-thinking Wilson wrote how as result of the government’s banning of fat and fat products, “Lipidleggers” provided people with fixes of the real thing; non-altered eggs, milk and other dairy products. At the time, people probably laughed at the prospects of governmental banning of foods or sale of foods, but in 2008 some kids in a California middle school are living proof of Wilson’s prescience. For all of the credit that Huxley and Orwell have received for seeing what would become of society in the future, Wilson’s vision has become reality.
School officials in Victorville admit that they see just as much candy in school as before the ban since kids can still bring it in from home and buy it in stores before coming to school. The Victorville middle school principal even says that regarding the move away from junk food in schools, “I think they get a good nutritional lunch here, but looking at our kids and looking at physical education scores, I don’t see how it’s been a highly effective program.”
Talk about an incredible waste of time and effort.
You would think that local and state governments, and the school boards, would have a lot more important things to worry about. Given the state of the physical education curriculums – curriculums in general – and the fact that regular physical exercise is the only proven remedy for the epidemic of unhealthiness that has swept the nation, the authorities should be concerned with getting kids to be active and stop wasting time pursuing bans of dubious effectiveness. If the public health, do-gooder types had any real guts, they’d push for tougher phys ed standards and initiate a program of mandatory exercise for all citizens.
But of course this will never happen, because it is much easier to enact ham-handed laws that ban/outlaw and restrict access to items than it is to embark on a truly effective program to help people. Look at tobacco and smoking as an example of how elected officials take the easy way out.
As time goes by there will be more legislation and regulations that ban and restrict access to a wide variety of foods, and people will continue to do and eat what they want. The fictional Lippidleggers of 1978 have given way to the Sugarleggers of 2008. It will be interesting to see what other “leggers” crop up in the near future.
I agree policies like this are clumsy and ineffective. In fact I think they are downright repressive: I get hot under the collar when people treat liberty so lightly, something to be thrown away at the merest excuse. I’m sure there are plenty of healthy, active kids who might enjoy a chocolate treat at lunch once in a while, which would be fine for them, and why should they be punished by a blanket ban? I realize we are discussing kids here, not adults, and proponents might say “We’re trying to teach our kids a lifestyle of healthy eating”; but I think they are also teaching kids that individual liberty and personal responsibility are unimportant, that nanny-state intrusion into the minutiae of daily life is acceptable, and that anyone who wants a little treat has to break the rules in order to get it. Those are not good lessons to teach children, I think.
Great post, Sal. I agree with the above post. The regulation of our lives is excessive now. My brother in law and his wife (who are full of diet “tips”) look at me in horror when I give my daughter a candy. I get scolded on the evils of sugar. Yeah, if that’s all I feed her. In fact she gleefully eats rapini and other healthy foods. We have a healthy diet and are not partial to silly trends. Forgive me, as the parent, if I regulate my own child.