Let’s Not Be Paternalistic About Food

In all the debate that goes on in this country about what people eat and how we need to reform the American diet, it’s always taken as a given that people who attempt to nourish themselves and their children on fast food need to be educated, need to be reformed. There’s a sense that we who are enlightened about food, who subscribe to the philosophies of Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman and Alice Waters (I certainly do), are somehow in possession of a great secret and if only we could communicate this secret to the uninformed, we’ll spare them from diabetes and heart disease and cancer and all of the other blights inevitable for those who don’t buy organic produce, who gobble down Big Macs while we gobble down our brown rice bowls.

The Soda Tax

The commercial that you see above really irked me the first time that I saw it. In it, a woman grouses about a bill to tax soda in New York State (a similar bill is being proposed in ten other states, including California and Washington), making the point that she can barely make ends meet (though, as my friend Mark Blankenship points out in his post about it, the woman has an “enormous kitchen”) and urging Governor Paterson to focus on “out-of-control spending in Albany” rather than how much it should cost for her kids to drink their beloved soda.

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