Campaign to retire Ronald McDonald, California city bans toys in kids meals over a certain calorie count, these are the headlines; other food shockers include a man who wanted kids and teens to be carded in order to buy soda, whose stance was let the parent buy it for them if they want them to have it while under age 18. The same man who took issue with even with even fresh squeezed orange juice done at home by hand, saying it removes the pulp and with it the fiber and stated that juice drinks have more sugar per ounce than soda. Taxes on soda and other sugary drinks have been proposed not only as a revenue generator, but to discourage their use. Federal regulations seek to decrease the amount of sodium in products sold on supermarket shelves, and the Center for Science and the Public Interest just published its list of the worst restaurant meals containing thousands of calories, one nearly equaling the entire allotment for one day, along with over a days worth or sugar, fat, and salt, based on your typical 2,000 calorie diet.
Most people recognize the ludicrousness of the activist campaign’s claim that Ronald McDonald is the spokes person for childhood obesity; subsequent members of the public have likewise noted that to do this to Ronald McDonald you would also have to remove other popular characters from children’s food products, such as Toucan Sam, Count Chocula, Frankenberry, the Trix rabbit, the Lucky Charms leprechaun, just to name a few. In addition people have spoken out that, in the case of Ronald McDonald, not only is he a kids icon selling McDonald’s happy meals, he is the symbol associated Ronald McDonald House charities. This seems like just another grasping at straws effort to curb obesity or individuals with too much money and too much time on their hands. Similarly it flies in the face of fast food chains making a concentrated effort to offer more healthy choices, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the parents to choose the apple dippers instead of fries and milk instead of soda for their kids, as it is for adults to take the salad or fruit parfait not the fries and the bottled water rather than soda, to take the 600 calorie meal option verses something more.
Lawmakers have far more pressing matters than crafting a bill banning toys in kids’ meals; further it shows their complete ignorance of children. Children will want the happy meal, or similar kids meal from any fast food franchise, for the toy and parents will have to practically tie them down and withhold the toy to get them to even eat the food. Still half the food goes in the trash or a doggie bag. Other kids want to go to these eateries to climb on the Ronald McDonald statue or for the play equipment, which induces almost an identical scenario. Neither advertising gimmick causes obesity nor will banning one or both have any effect on obesity rates in children. Why, because even if you take away the things that make children whine for their parents to take them there, it does nothing for the kid whose parent took them there as a treat or on a vacation and they liked the food and now want to go there every chance they get.
Along the same lines, the laws demanding posted calorie counts of menu items stand not to have the desired effect as many Americans have said time and time again they don’t go to a fast food place looking to eat healthy, they don’t consume movie popcorn based on its calorie count, they eat it because they like the taste and because popcorn is part of the movie experience. And despite headlines and trends glorifying the contrary, there are still a significant number of Americans that eat out sparingly, who don’t spend every weekend at the movies therefore little chance of becoming obese because of it.
One can also give ample evidence that those who choose to engage in these kinds of campaigns, who lobby for these kinds of laws are indeed fighting the wrong battle; they should instead be far more concerned with the safety of the nation’s food supply, the bulk of the food consumed by the country at large. It seems like every other week the news is reporting another salmonella or E-Coli tainted product we must hasten to snatch from our shelves and refrigerators, bacteria usually associated with meats found in lettuce, peanut butter, black pepper, even crackers. And no one can tell us why or how such contaminates make it into completely unrelated items long before they reach our kitchens, only push the preverbal panic button telling people to discard whatever it is that could now be deadly.
US meats have a history of being banned over seas for fear of things like mad cow disease; an alarming new low however, is portions of beef banned by Mexico for excessive levels of antibiotics and unsafe levels of metals like copper. Digging deeper into the issue, news outlets found the US does no testing for antibiotic levels or the presence of metals; while simultaneously you have experts calling for an overhaul of entities like the FDA in order to make food safer and the FDA pleading for the staff it needs to conduct the proper tests and inspections. These are the things people should be calling for, basic testing for possible contaminates, metals, making sure there is good quality food going into our supermarkets for people to buy, to nourish themselves and their families.
Anyone so fanatical about healthy eating they take issue with someone buying oranges to squeeze their own juice is obviously a zealot, but this gentleman is not the only one. A congressman sat down with a reporter recently saying, among other things, that there are no poor people in America; as an example he stated that America has fat poor people most countries have skinny poor people. Forget that that should speak as a testament to the positives of so called entitlement and welfare programs, staving off hunger in large numbers; plus, people who are low income or on food stamps are forced to buy can vegetables and fruits high in sodium and laced in sugar respectively. They survive on filler foods like beans and rice, foods known to pack on the pounds. Famed Dr. Oz even admits that being on food stamps can cause weight gain.
We have a food system that is skewed where junk food, chips, soda are cheaper than healthy food. PBS followed a family of 4 to the supermarket; 2 leader bottles of soda were 69 cents. For that same 69 cents the family would have gotten 1-2 fresh pears. It’s cheaper for the same family of 4, should they choose to eat out, to purchase the value burger and fries than the healthier options on the menu or go to a higher end restaurant with more choices. Yet we have people campaigning about the advertising, concerned about the prize in the happy meal rather than the over all quality of the nations food supply; instead they should be pushing for healthy to be affordable. Government bean counters and regulators who know nothing about farming, animal raising and related activities should not be forcing food growers, raisers to engage in practices such as using bleach to sanitize chicken and other things that not only sound bizarre but increase their operating prices which in turn drives up the price consumers pay.
Taxes on soda and sugary drinks are seen as desperate ploys to generate revenue in the eyes of the public, government trying to grab more of their hard earned money, legislate or take away simple enjoyments. No one should be putting taxes on food items, regardless of how unhealthy, because people will see it as usurping their freedom and buy it in spite of how high you make the tax. Precedent for this can be seen in the taxes placed on liquor and cigarettes the number of people who smoke and drink knowing the health warnings and soda has nothing like their effect or immediate dangers. Speaking of alcohol, we can’t mobilize effective national programs to card minors for beer; one cannot fathom what makes the person who suggested it think we could implement the same for soda with any success.
At the end of the day the safety of the food supply should be the concern not what advertising gimmick companies employ to sell their products, even when it is food; activist groups should be raising hell about the bacterial taints making the news, the lack of tests on beef, not to mention what was caught by another poorer country, instead of the toy in the kids meal. People concerned about obesity should be focused the choices given to poor people, the lower middle class, the struggling middle class, who are trying to feed their families; they should devote their time to reversing the skewed food system, not just posting the calorie counts of food franchise items people come there specifically to indulge in. Only then will things get better.