This morning, the Fooducate Blog touched upon an article from Saturday's New York Times:
In a nutshell, the NYT makes the argument that it's damn near impossible for Americans to make healthy food choices and incorporate exercise because of our environment.
The real problem is a landscape littered with inexpensive fast-food meals,; saturation advertising for fatty, sugary products; inner cities that lack supermarkets; and unhealthy, high-stress workplaces.
I call Bull Shit. While it's true that the current environment is not conducive to easily living an optimally healthy lifestyle, laying the blame outside of oneself is just plain folly. The only portion of the above statement that I will concede to is the lack of supermarkets in inner cities (although from what I can see here in NYC there is no lack of availability, I can't attest to the situation in other parts of the country).
The NYT article suggests cutting agricultural subsidies as a way to equalize food pricing and influence people's eating habits. The thought there is that "if we cut the subsidy on whole milk and made it cheaper only to drink low-fat milk, people would switch to it and it would save a lot of calories." - (Dr. Barry Popkin, professor of nutrition at UNC). This is akin to the proposed taxes on soda and juice that many states have attempted to pass in the recent past.
But why are we passing the buck? Just because the easy choice is to hit the drive-thru, whose decision is it to make? It's ours. No one holds a gun to our heads and tells us to buy the frozen entree. No one backs us into a corner and makes us grab a burger and fries instead of a baked potato and chili. There is no one holding your grandmother hostage, refusing to release her if you don't buy from Mr. Softee instead of the fruit cart.
Sure it would be great if the cost per calorie worked in favor of the apple over the happy meal! But just like politics, the change has to start at home. YOU do the difficult work, consciously make the decision to eat to nourish your body. Set a good example for your family, your friends. The change can trickle UP. From you, to your children, to their friends, to their schools. From you, to your social circles, to your merchants, to our legislators.
It won't happen by limiting choice (taxing treats). It will only happen by embracing choice.
The buck stops here.