FLOTSAM & JETSAM: Prigs in the lunchroom

Friday, May 20, 2011

Prigs in the lunchroom

Sam Smith

The Department of Agriculture
is proposing to limit the amount of potatoes available in school lunches to one cup a week in a not so nice example of liberal bossiness of the sort that produces little other than fewer votes for Democrats in elections.

Liberals often seem broadly unconscious of the fact that people’s politics are affected by attitude as well as by policy and telling people what they can eat or restricting a perfectly healthy food is about as dumb a political move one can come up with.

Besides, the science isn’t there for the Obama administration’s gastronomic self righteousness.

Consider this item from Irish Central last month

|||| Obesity is now a major problem in Ireland – over 60 per cent of adults aged under 65 are either obese or overweight according to a new survey. The National Adult Nutrition Survey has also revealed that obesity rates amongst Irish men have tripled over the last 20 years. Male obesity has risen from eight per cent in 1990 to 26 per cent in men under the age of 65. Female obesity was at 13 per cent 20 years ago and now stands at 21 per cent. ||||

Since potatoes have been a staple of the Irish diet for centuries, clearly they are an extraorinarily weak suspect in the rise in obesity during just the past two decades.

To the extent that potatoes are to blame it is most likely because of a change in the way they are cooked i.e. fried vs. baked or mashed. What might be called the Americanization of food can affect other items as well such as shifting from boiled meats and vegetables – another Irish staple – to fried and broiled.

But in the end we really don’t know. And one of the worst things any government can do is to pass rigid rules about things it doesn’t understand. Not only is it bad policy and bad science, it makes people mad. The people who do it come off as bossy prigs and often lose the next election.