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Commentary: Food freedoms in jeopardy

Alex Forbess, Food Editor

Alex Forbess, Food Editor

We love to eat; let us not deny this. Everything we do gives us an excuse to eat and drink what we crave most.

One person will work out for extensive hours so his metabolism will burn anything, while another is thinking since he earned a 4.0 GPA, a strawberry doughnut from the Donut Man should compensate him for the hours he put in studying.

However, with diet-related health issues increasing, some health advocates have taken their concerns too far. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg implemented an ordinance effective this month restricting restaurants, sports bars, food courts and other such venues from selling soda larger than 16 ounces. Bloomberg is pushing for this to go statewide and for other states to follow.

Never did I think I would repeat the words of former NRA president Charlton Heston: “from my cold dead hands.”

Placing a food ban to ensure a healthier society is a false fantasy. What this will do is have people frustrated that now the government is stepping in and dictating what they can eat and drink.

People should be able to eat and drink what they desire, even if that means ignoring the amount of calories, saturated fat and sodium.

I am not denying Americans are unhealthy since more than 35 percent of adults in the United States are obese—including more than 23 percent of Californians—according to the Centers for Disease Control, but if health advocates want people healthy, placing a strict ban will not solve this.

This scenario reminds me of the V-chip, an initiative developed by Congress in 1996 to place this technology in all televisions to have viewers regulate what they watch. If they see something offensive or “damaging for their children,” they will place a block so they do not see this certain show.

With all the research and money that went into this anti-free speech technology, was it hard to just encourage everyone turn off the television and open a book?

Unfortunately, there is another setback about the soda ban: its affect on the 24,000 restaurants in New York City. Although the ban is effective as of March 1, there will be a three-month grace period for businesses to adapt to this rule, but they should not have to make the change in the first.

They should not be punished for being the “cause of obesity.” These businesses are not forcing customers to drink an extra-large soda. The customers are craving it, and the amount they drink is their choice.

The way to reduce obesity is not a ban, it’s education—explaining why people should limit the food and drinks they consume. When health advocates explain specifically why a concerned individual is turning into the Pillsbury Doughboy, then he will build an understanding.

The greatest challenge of independence is building the tolerance to know how much we consume, understanding if it is a treat or enjoying our last supper. Obviously one-third of the country still needs to learn but until that happens, big government can stop trying to get rid of high-calories drinks or otherwise infantalizing America.

Alex Forbess, a senior journalism major, is food editor for the Campus Times. He can be reached by email at alex.forbess@laverne.edu.

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