Big Food's false choice

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I was listening to Ira Flatow interview Rob Lustig on a Science Friday podcast when I heard Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UC Berkeley, make a really good point.

Big Food spinmeisters subvert the libertarian viewpoint to “keep Big Brother from telling me what to eat” as a way to avoid any fetter on its ability to sell its products, when Big Food is already telling us what to eat!

Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina and colleagues have determined that 80 percent of the 600,000 food products sold in the U.S. have added processed sugar, making it highly unlikely that you’re eating a processed-sugar-free diet unless you’re really committed to it.

So your choice has already been made, Lustig says: “Who do you want in your kitchen? Do you want the government, who’ll take away your wallet and your freedom? Or do you want the food industry, who has already taken your wallet, your freedom, and your health?”

I love that perspective. Big Food, and other industry, paints the picture starkly: government or not government. Then, their foes have to be “for” government, never a popular place. But I offer a corollary to Winston Churchill’s dictum that “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”:

I don’t want government in America’s kitchen unless a worse force is already there.


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