If members of the committee and their selected experts get their way, we’ll be paying more for food and not eating any healthier. So if the committee follows through with it’s plan to recommend “plant-based diets,” our soldiers may have to switch from sliced turkey to tofurky.
The less tangible impact is worth noting, as well. Whether it invokes a specific policy change or not, when the official government position on food policy changes, consumers listen. We saw this with USDA’s release of the food pyramid in 1991. While intended to be a gentle guide for the American public, it fundamentally changed Americans’ eating habits, most notably with respect to carbohydrate consumption. In the first ten years after the food pyramid’s release, obesity rates climbed 61 percent. When the government advises the American people on how to eat, they listen. The problem is that they haven’t exactly gotten the science right in the past, and they seem to be making blanket prescriptions to fit their own pre-existing opinions this time around.
It shouldn’t take 50 federal staffers , outside consultants, and a team of self-congratulatory experts to suggest we go easy on the fries. But that’s what it takes to prepare this diet of heavy-handed environmentalism, food taxes, and nanny state food bans coming from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. It won’t improve how we eat. Instead, it will restrict individual decisionmaking and further bloat federal control over our lives.
Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and heads its Risk Analysis Division.