Friday, 6 March 2015
How do contemporary authoritarians differ from authoritarians of yesteryear. In most of the developed world today’s authoritarians are a gentler bunch. They don’t (usually) want to use a secret police force to beat up, execute or jail the miscreants that violate the rules. On the other hand there are a lot of areas of a person’s life that were untouched by old authoritarians but into which the new authoritarians are more than willing to intrude. For example, food. They want to regulate what you eat. Food may well be the next big expansion area of illegality.
The authoritarians almost invariably use health to justify their initiatives. At the forefront of health concerns is obesity. Fighting obesity is now up there with fighting drugs. The war on obesity has not yet been officially declared but the anti-obesity forces are marching to the front lines. Those famous U.S. SWAT teams may soon be breaking down the doors of the obese and emptying the refrigerators!
For the time being the measures being proposed to fight obesity are usually financial like special punitive taxes on disfavored foods such as a one percent excise tax on so-called junk food. Special excise taxes are also being proposed on the sale of soft drinks or soft drink syrup and on bottled, ready-to-drink tea or coffee, sports drinks, spring or mineral water, and flavoured milk products. It is called “taxing fat”. American food warriors are advocating prohibiting the use of food stamps for the “incorrect foods” which is to be expected, since we all know that the poor are the fattest of them all. It is an historical constant that so much authoritarianism originates from an upper middle class disapproving of the behaviour of the poor.
Some Food Fascists advocate subsidizing veggies and organics. Other Food Fascists simply want to ban a wide range of foods of which they disapprove. There is a long list of proposed bans ranging from large sodas to anything that is a product of biotechnology.
There are lots of food fascists who would like to ban the eating of meat. They claim that meat and dairy industries take up 38% of the world's land use and account for 70% of global freshwater consumption or, in other words, the planet is to small and crowded to permit unrestricted consumption of meat. We could supposedly feed 10 billion of people if we would go on a vegan diet planetary-wide. Meat is also accused (unsupported by carefully controlled tests) of causing all sorts of diseases including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, obesity, excessive cholesterol/ high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases. So meat will be banned because it is for your own good.
Children as usual are a favorite target of the authoritarians (who seem to be particularly numerous in the education system) who want to re-engineer school lunches to the point of inedibility. At Little Village Academy on Chicago's West Side, students are not even allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria. Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices. "Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school," Carmona said. "It's about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception".
Parents of students at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Hamilton, Ontario, are being asked to avoid putting dairy, eggs and fish into their kids’ lunches because of one student’s severe allergies. Clamoring PC food fascists can intimidate your favorite restaurant into removing your favorite dish from its menu.
How far will they go. Will doctors be required to report people who have poor diet habits? Do they report parents who allow their children to eat too many sugary foods. Doctors in Ontario already have compulsory reporting obligations under eighteen different statutes. Why not add another one.
Standing just behind the people who want to ban a wide list of allegedly unhealthy foods is another group of Food Fascists. These are people from health departments and agencies - they see e coli lurking in any food product that has not been properly incinerated. They have a habit of targeting food production and sale where there have been few reported incidences, e.g. Chinese barbecued meats.
Does Food Fascism have any scientific justification. A study from the University of North Carolina showed that today's fatter kids are not eating more than 20 years ago, they're just exercising less. Another study involving 400,000 people has shown that eating lots of fruit and vegetables makes little difference to your risk of getting cancer. This contradicts the received opinion of nutritionists who have for years bombarded us with bossy propaganda telling us we must eat five fruit and vegetables every day.
Another study involving 400,000 people has shown that eating lots of fruit and vegetables makes little difference to a person’s risk of getting cancer. So much for nutritionists dictating that we must eat five fruit and vegetables every day.
Consequently food scares are being constantly being revised. New ones added. Old ones dropped. At the same time food fad come and go. We have those radical vegetarians who wish to ban the consumption of meat. We have the paleo diet people who oppose eating any food that was a product of the agricultural revolution - which incidentally was so bad for Homo Sapiens that it resulted in a huge increase in our population.
Unfortunately Food Fascism will be pushed along by well intentioned politicians backed by a well intentioned public. The latest evidence is a poll commissioned by the do-gooders at the Public Health Agency of Canada claiming that a “majority of Canadians” support a ban on the marketing of candy, pop, chips and other essential fun foods of childhood as well as near-majority support for new taxes on treats.
Posted by Juricana at 20:13