Fight for the right to have bake sales

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The linked post from Marian Nestle’s blog recounts the hasty retreat from a plan in Massachusetts to bar school bake sales, and it encapsulates so much of the nation’s nutrition problem.

In the uproar that resulted, opponents argued that it would make it harder to raise money for class trips, etc.; not resolve the obesity problem; and tread on local rights.

If you think that refined, processed foods — even yummy ones — have any role in making one of three kids obese or overweight, then the rejoinders are exceedingly weak.

The need to fund-raise is valid, but what you sell has to be considered. Hey, why don’t we just sell crack? That’s only absurd if you can’t see a parallel between why some people are far more willing to part with their money for some things than for others. But that’s what you want, right? The kids aren’t going to see the Washington Monument if you try to sell broccoli.

Meanwhile, the ban would have had other functions beyond solving the obesity problem, which is enormously complicated and won’t be solved by any one thing. Choosing not to consider baked goods as appropriate fund-raising fodder is a strong statement, though not nearly as strong as going to the mat to rescue bake sales from being barred.

And local control? Wasn’t that an argument to retain Jim Crow in the South? And didn’t we decide collectively that the evil was greater than the imposed restriction?

The crux lies entirely in whether you think that sugary/fatty treats are, on balance, good influences or bad. Sure, they're homey, traditional, even tasty. But increasingly obviously, these foods are unhealthy, especially in excess, and that’s how we are eating them. At a minimum, we shouldn’t be celebrating and organizing community around them.

PS: Check out the comments section; they're as interesting as the post itself. I particularly appreciated Dana Woldow's comment that if parents would invest the time and money they spent preparing the baked goods, promoting the baked goods, buying the baked goods and just donated that to the cause, even more more would be raised, and without the collateral damage.

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