This article first appeared at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, October 31, 2014:
Joe Helm’s exposé on the food police’s next target — candy — enraged Fred Smith, a self-admitted sugarholic who saw immediately what the food police are after: control. Helms, for his article in the October 24 Washington Post, tracked down the chief of the food police, Margo Wootan (pictured above), director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), who told him:
Governments are deciding that it really doesn’t make sense for them to have obesity campaigns, which are often high-profile and a big priority, and then you walk into the health department or any public building and they have these vending machines that are chock-full of candy and soda and chips.
Being fully persuaded that government has the right, and the power, to do something about this awful contradiction — people ignoring government’s plea to do the right thing and stay away from fatty foods — Wootan believes government should use force to get its way, rather than persuasion:
By taking candy out of schools we’re saying that candy is not an everyday food, and it’s something you should be eating a lot less of.
Smith called such excessive hubris “truly frightening,” writing in Forbes:
Were they to achieve their goals … Halloween candy may give way to carrots and celery!…
For Food Police groups like [CSPI], “public health” campaigns are really about control….
Public health activists have long advocated for their concept of a healthy lifestyle no matter how much it restricts our freedom. [Emphasis added.]
Smith sees this move by food police such as Wootan as merely the first step: first the schools, then everybody else:
Public health advocates, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg chief among them, worked long and hard to restrict the sizes in which restaurants could sell soda, with some success.
Candy is clearly the anti-sugar advocates’ next target, and the battle plans are similar: first you claim you are doing it for the children by banning candy sales in the schools, and expand[ing] those restrictions to encompass everybody else.
Wootan helped to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in 2010 which forced vast changes on any schools that receive federal funding. Starting this month, that law now mandates that all candy, sugary drinks, and non-nutritional snacks be removed from school cafeterias and vending machines.
Another food police activist, Walter Tejada, an Arlington, Virginia, county board member, also believes in the omnipotent, omniscient power of government to right wrongs and cure obesity in the process:
This is absolutely an area that governments will have to increasingly address….
[Government mandates] might mean less (sic) sales for the product that [candy companies] provide, but the writing is on the wall. We’ve got a problem and we have to fix it.
The candy companies are going to have to reinvent themselves and provide healthy options.
Those candy companies are already in a state of panic and surrender to the threatened mandates. Instead of standing up to the few anti-sugar zealots and calling them out for their totalitarian intentions, they are instead agreeing that the best approach is to promote “balance and moderation” in the use of their product. Said John Downs, chief executive and apologist for the National Confectioners Association (NCA):
There is so much negative publicity around sugar. So we’ve got to do a better job, obviously, in articulating our case in the role that candy plays in a balanced lifestyle….
I think our message is clear. It’s about balance and moderation.
No, it is not. It’s about freedom of choice and the proper role of government. In an interview promoting his new book, The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate, author Jayson Lusk was asked why he went to the trouble of writing it:
It was becoming apparent [to me] that the policies offered by the food police were largely based on an ideological agenda rather than empirical evidence that [such mandates would] actually work [in reducing obesity and improving health]….
The evidence is that the implementation of those policies would harm the very people the food police purport to help.
David Kessler, appointed to head up the Food and Drug Administration in 1990 by then-President George Bush and re-appointed by President Clinton, repeated the socialist mantra first espoused and promoted by Vladimir Lenin who said “Give us the child for eight years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.” Said Kessler to journalist Helm:
If you can get a kid to 3 or 4 or 5, where they don’t want this stuff except occasionally, that’s the Holy Grail.
Then Kessler tried to “clarify” what he really meant:
Having been a regulator, this isn’t about regulation or litigation or legislation. This is really about changing social norms.
Let’s not fool ourselves. Government is a helpful tool in changing social norms….
What did we really do when it came to smoking? We demonized the product. We changed the social norm.
None of this would be necessary if the federal government lived within its constitutional mandate to stick to the 25 or so powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
Without those constraints, however, the food police have big plans. After removing all candy from public schools, they are working next to rid candy and other “unhealthy” snacks from all checkout aisles of grocery and convenience stores. After all, the poor shopper is now tired from all the shopping she has done, trying to make the endless decisions over the nearly unlimited options that the free market has provided her in those stores, and needs a little government assistance. Said Wootan:
[Grocery stores] know that at the end of a shop, your willpower is at a very low point, and [so] they assault you with this huge display of candy, knowing that it will induce impulse buying.
Pushing people to buy food that they didn’t want, that is going to harm their health, just doesn’t seem appropriate, given the high rates of obesity.
In that single moment of clarity resides all one needs to know about the food police: Government must dictate consumer behavior, in their own best interests of course. Mitchel Goetze is a co-owner of his family’s Goetze’s Candy in Baltimore, and he gets what’s at stake here:
Once an industry or consumers accept that it is illegal to have candy at the front of grocery stores, you know, what’s next?
And that is the shame of what is going on with these advocacy groups and public policy and new laws.
They’re … really creating restrictions on choice. And my fear is, where does that stop?