Does Your Body Belong to You?

Food nannies want the government to control your diet.

“Perhaps you’ve noticed the trend among certain people these days,” wrote Neil Genzlinger in The New York Times the other day, “to decide that certain other people are not living acceptable lives and must be reformed.”

Yes. There certainly is a lot of that going around.

You can see it in the comments from Michele Bachmann’s husband, Marcus—who says homosexuals are “barbarians” who need to be “educated” and “disciplined.” The Bachmanns own a clinic that tries to make homosexuals go straight—a procedure as likely to succeed as trying to make a straight man gay.

You can see the trend in Arizona, Alabama, and other states that have imposed stiff penalties for employers who choose to hire illegal immigrants—i.e., individuals who moved to the U.S. without a government permission slip.

You can see it across the country in the attempts by Christian parents to have Harry Potter books removed from school libraries, to keep children from reading stories that supposedly promote witchcraft and the occult.

And when you finished reading Genzlinger’s column of page A16 in last Sunday’s Times, you also could see the trend he wrote about just a few pages further in—on the front of the Times’ Sunday Review section. “What will it take,” asked the paper’s Mark Bittman, “to get Americans to change our eating habits?”

This is a subject of great concern to progressives today. Many of them are deeply distressed that—despite incessant lecturing on the subject—too many of their fellow citizens continue to eat what they like, rather than what progressives think they should eat.

Bittman’s answer to this dilemma is to tax “bad food” and subsidize “good food.” He is far from alone. But this answer to the problem of too much food freedom rests on two major factual errors and a moral grotesquerie. The first factual error is the belief that healthful foods cost too much. Nonsense: For the price of a single fast-food combo meal you can buy a week’s worth of fruits and vegetables.

The second error is Bittman’s claim that “efforts to shift the national diet have failed, because education alone is no match for marketing dollars that push the very foods that are the worst for us.” Donald Boudreaux, professor of economics at George Mason University in Northern Virginia, makes quick work of this foolishness—in a response to a different piece—on his blog, Café Hayek.

“Why,” he asks, “doesn’t McDonald’s simply serve raw celery? Celery being much less costly for McDonald’s to buy than ground beef and chicken patties, a raw-celery-only menu at McDonald’s would slash that company’s costs. And with its nefarious facility at using ‘advertising and marketing’ to hypnotize consumers into buying whatever it peddles (even ‘nasty killer foods’!), that fast-food behemoth will keep consumers spending as much on McCelery stalks as consumers now spend on Happy Meals and Egg McMuffins. McDonald’s profits will zoom upward!” (The answer is obvious: Consumers have the last word.)

The moral grotesquerie comes later in the piece, when Bittman offers the rationale for his scheme: Some might “argue that their right to eat whatever they wanted was being breached,” he concedes, “but public health is the role of the government, and our diet is right up there with any other public responsibility you can name, from water treatment to mass transit.” Besides, “health-related obesity costs are projected to reach $344 billion by 2018—with roughly 60 percent of that cost borne by the federal government.” In short, the government should dictate what you eat for the sake of the collective good.

Bittman used to write about recipes, so perhaps he does not know of Kant’s categorial imperative, which instructs us to treat people as ends in themselves—not as mere means to an end. Using government coercion to dictate other people’s food choices in order to save money on government programs is a blinding violation of that moral precept.
Nevertheless, Bittman says it is “fun—inspiring, even” to think about the various ways government could order people about: “We” could convert soda machines to “machines that dispense grapes and carrots.” “We” could sell vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruit “cheap—let’s say for 50 cents a pound—and almost everywhere: drugstores, street corners, convenience stores, bodegas. . . ”

Just one problem: “We” do not own the drug stores or bodegas—so we have no right to dictate what they stock.
The progressive campaign against obesity relies on the assumption that the individual no longer owns his or her body—rather, society as a whole does. This has some profound implications for, say, abortion. And Bittman’s contribution to that campaign should serve as a warning: Anyone who thinks it would be “fun” to use government power to dictate everyone else’s choices—from sex partner to dinner menu—should not be allowed anywhere near it.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • rather||

    So progressives discourage certain foods; big deal. Is it worse than men who try to get you to eat something you don't want either?

  • ­||

    Are you talking about semen?

  • rather||

    Don't be so contumelious!!!

  • ||

    It's a big deal when they enlist the policeman's help.

  • ||

    Hypocrites like their donuts, tho!

  • SIV||

    The Bachmanns own a clinic that tries to make homosexuals go straight

    No they don't, and so what if they did?
    How is that analogous to state coercion?

  • ||

    Bachmann politics aside, that is a really terrible analogy.

  • scythe||

    They have voiced their support for institutionalization of their ridiculous ideology, so it is analogous to other people who have voiced their support for institutionalization of food rules.

  • Brett L||

    You are seriously arguing that they have tried to get someone to pass a bill that will force gays to go to "pray the gay away" clinics or face fines and/or jail? Citation needed.

  • Tony||

    It indicates just what sort of president she'd be, for one.

    Bachmann is a welfare queen par excellence. Her clinic gets government money, her foster kids get her government money, she got a loan through Fannie Mae...

  • ||

    "Her" foster kids. Don't you realise that foster children are wards of the state? Foster parents generally spend in excess on the kids than the state pays them. See California State Foster Parent Association, et al. v. Wagner, et al.

    Michelle Bachmann has not harmed any dogs.

  • Tony||

    No just gay humans.

  • WTF||

    Where did she touch you, Tony?

  • rather||

    Tony, trying to change who you are is a waste of your life but if someone chooses that path, I'd try to understand their journey.

  • Tony||

    There's evidence that conversion therapy causes depression and suicide. The Bachmanns are evil eugenicists.

  • Tony||

    But Margaret Sanger would approve.

  • Dickensian snark||

    Let's accept for the moment that homosexuality is a heritable trait that could be eliminated through selective breeding (that is eugenics, right?), or simply that the Bachmanns believe such. I don't think the best approach (if that were one's goal) would be to risk turning homosexuals straight (and transform them from non-breeders into potential breeders). If the argument is that they know their methods are totally ineffective, and their goal is purely to cause as many closet homosexuals as possible to commit suicide before they have children (to whom they presumably pass on the "gay" gene) with the other person in their show relationships, then wouldn't a simpler and more effective approach be to encourage closet homosexuals to out themselves, and y'know, stop having sex with people of the opposite gender? The Bachmanns may or may not be evil, but I don't think eugenics is the word you're looking for.

  • jtuf||

    The Bachmanns own a clinic that tries to make homosexuals go straight

    The idea that a therapist can change a gay man to a straight man is about as believable as the idea that a pedophile can groom a 4 year old to seek out sex.

  • Realist||

    Tony's parents have tried to get him to stop sucking cock for years....no luck!

  • Fat Crack Ho||

    While the Bachmanns' clinic isn't analogous to state coercion, per se, it's still emblematic of the mentality that *drives* that sort of coercion.

    In other words, both the left and the right want to dictate what you're allowed to put in your mouth.

  • SIV||

    No, there is a profound difference between disapproval and coercion.
    Christians* want people to choose the right path, secular progressives want all but the right path fenced off with barbed wire, machine gun towers and guard dogs.

  • SIV||

    * yes there are Christian progressives and, like secular folk, there is a statist streak in most of them.

  • ||

    there is NO coercion.

    the bachmann's are providing a product/service that is hardly shrouded in mystery - iow you know what you are purchasing - and is entirely a matter of choice

    i think it's hogwash ,but i am free to have my opinion and they are free to have theirs

    this has NOTHING to do with nannyism, any more than the ridiculous analogy involving arizona etc. and illegal immigration enforcement laws.

    mebbe, if the bachmann's "therapy" can be found to be civilly actionable based on some harm it causes, then that's the route of protest.

    but in a free society, the bachmann's should be able ot market their "therapy"

  • Kaitlin||

    Thank you! Gosh, someone had to say it. I think they're ridiculously misguided, but I'm not about to ban such clinics. And they are certainly not on the same level as government enforcement of health food.

  • Destrudo||

    They wouldn't be "discouraging". This would be using force to intrude on our freedom, you mentally ill cuntpickle.

  • Destrudo||

    @rather, obviously. Squirrels, etc.

  • rather||

    Hmm, make a mental note:
    Destrudo is S L O W

  • Destrudo||

    Thanks for the compliment, but I still won't have sex with you.

  • rather||

    ....and delusional

  • ||

    I think people need to change what they eat, too.
    But the only libertarian answer is to educate people on their eating habits and hope they make the right choice. I changed mine, in part, because of Mark Bittman...but not because the government coerced me.

    I don't mind when the government spends its time making recommendations. If that's all they ever did, we should be so lucky.

    There are some things the government could do right now:
    1) Stop subsidizing crops
    2) Stop imposing tariffs on food imports
    3) Stop passing capture regulations for corporate agri-business that make it difficult for small/backyard/family farmers to operate

  • ||

    Hold on there, guy. You're suggesting that government stop meddling. That won't do for our progressive friends. Their whole point is to do good. That requires meddling, by definition.

  • Ted S.||

    I don't mind when the government spends its time making recommendations. If that's all they ever did, we should be so lucky.

    I mind. What have their food triangles/food pyramids/food icosahedra done for us?

  • ||

    many, if not most americans eat a shitty fucking diet and they reap the consequences.

    i've done waht i can to improve people's diets (former personal trainer, current strength coach), but that's by choice

    it is not inconsistent to say that

    1) americans eat, on average, a shitty diet and that the majority of chronic health conditions are caused almost solely by behavior - diet, smoking, etc.

    2) govt. has no authority to amek people eat what the govt. wants them to eat

  • ||

    On top of those 3 things list along with educating people(privately); the damn government could stop paying for medical treatments for everyone. Period. End of controversy. If stupid people wanna poison themselves with the nastiness that is McD's frequently enough that it becomes a health issue that's fatty's problem and fatty's alone. Why should those who don't wish to be obligated by force pay for their poor lifestyle choices. Just like why should I pay birth costs, though my taxes and elevated hospital fees, for every juvenile delinquent or insufficiently monied adult who chose to have kids at 16?
    How did this food article become a referendum on Bachmann's idiot husbands business? Last I saw those treatments were not being forced on anyone by the state...... for once. If the bitch wants to sell snake oil and other bitches wanna try it.... let 'em.

  • the real OO|||

    whats wrong with encouraging healthy eating since we all share cost of healthcare

  • rather||

    sperm is a healthy food too. Do you want or need government encouragement?

  • Jay||

    Because we all share the cost of health care, we also need to establish a Department of Excercise Enforcement that has the power to fine or imprison anyone who dosen't excercise at least 30 minutes as day

  • juris imprudent||

    And hire some Fullerton cops to lead the enforcement effort.

  • ||

    Wow sounds more and more like 1984. See big brother does love us.

  • ||

    whats wrong with _____ since we all share cost of _____

    Welcome to the Road to Serfdom! We hope you enjoy your descent.

  • ||

    Yep, government recommendations put Americans on the road to a shittier diet, and Mark BiteMeMan is part of the problem, not part of the solution. He has an agenda that is contrary to the science of diet.

    And he too wants to put us on the road to what's contrary to human prosperity. Complaints of "shared costs" are assinine when you have first forced people to have the government bear those costs.

  • Martin||

    I would argue that his earlier work at the NYT was very much part of the solution. In his Minimalist column he always had delicious, quick, and easy recipes. And he has consistently been an advocate of a "normal" healthy diet, and has said that organic fruits and veggies are a luxury and not a necessity. Furthermore, he's written two cookbooks that are both bigger than the bible, How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. He has played a huge role in helping me improve my cooking skills and my eating habits. Of course, none of this excuses his new role as a statist fuck.

  • scythe||

    Well, first, because at some point, "we all share the cost of" is a ridiculous complaint when you get to really tiny costs. Should nobody be allowed to drive cars because it blows dust around, and someone might sneeze?

    Second, because people who live longer actually cost -more- w.r.t. healthcare; in particular, smokers cost significantly less because lung cancer kills you quickly whereas degenerative diseases require years or even decades of care. Of course, the idea of subsidizing smoking to reduce healthcare costs sounds absolutely horrifying, but somehow this level of government intrusion becomes justified when it's "for your own good".

    Third, we all share the cost of healthcare generally through a health insurance policy, and nobody is saying that health insurance companies can't charge based on what you eat -- they can, and do.

  • ||

    encouraging healthy eating is a very very good thing

    forcing it on people via the barrel of a gun is not

    happy meal bans = bad

  • ||

    Encouragement from the government is like the rattle of a snake. It's a warning of the strike to come.

  • Tim||

    “Perhaps you’ve noticed the trend among certain people these days,” wrote Neil Genzlinger in The New York Times the other day, “to decide that certain other people are not living acceptable lives and must be reformed.”

    I agree, however, this is not exactly something new.

  • ||

    exactly. plus ca fucking change...

  • Kristen||

    But but but but...we only mean it when it comes to food!!!11!1 And, like, stuff that affects your health.

    Like, drugs. And sex partners. And abortions. And birth control. And booze. And modes of transportation. And pre-natal care. And cigs.

    Love the schadenfreude on this joining of lefty & righty. Enjoy your bedfellows, progressives!

  • Rock Action ||

    Bittman’s answer to this dilemma is to tax “bad food” and subsidize “good food.”

    Aren't farm subsidies (albeit to achieve a different goal than dietary regulation) part of the reason why we got the proliferation of high fructose corn syrup, which is high on the list of progressive food targets? Do people never at least stop to consider see that the mechanisms with which we go about enacting our policy preferences are possibly tied to the results?

    But even then, forget the economic policy arguments of unintended consequences, or even the political and moral questions of regulating your diet for a second. Think about it on a practical level. Try to go on a healthy diet, and read all the literature available. Tell me which foods, besides leafy greens, are unanimously considered healthy for you when making up the bulk of your diet, and which diets or arguments have studies partially legitimizing any claim pro or con.

    Good luck.

  • ||

    It occurs to me that one way to achieve Bittman's goal would be a value-added tax. I'm not advocating one, particularly since it would no doubt be added to existing taxes and not replace any current taxes, but wouldn't that have the effect of making processed foods more expensive compared to unprocessed ones?

  • Rock Action ||

    It would seem so, all things constant. Buying tomatoes from the farmer, paying a cannery, and then selling them retail would be an end-tax on consumers that would make it more expensive than just growing tomatoes and bringing them to market. But wouldn't a VAT just encourage companies to consolidate to keep end-costs to the consumer down, especially when it came to farming and land? If I'm not mistaken, the VAT is taken at each transaction. Normative behaviors wouldn't change if there were no transactions, and therefore no tax, and the unintended consequences of a VAT for food might give progressives fits, both in terms of land use and the expanding scope of big agribusiness.

    Also, can you imagine how we might affect food commerce if we were to define shipping as something that is a stage in production? The consequences of that would be far-reaching, I think.

    Just thinking off of the top of my head.

  • rather||

    VAT is taken added to each transaction

  • ||

    What will it take to get Mark Bittman to mind his own damn business?

  • juris imprudent||

    Maybe he should try to take the doughnuts away from some Fullerton cops?

  • ||

    Me!

    Bitch refuses to touch the salmon mousse, though.

  • Bingo||

    So yesterday I ate my first Big Mac in years and the patties were a LOT smaller than I remember them. The thing was 3 big pieces of bread with thin pieces of meat in between. McD's needs to do something about their flagship burger, it's embarrassing.

  • Bingo||

    Although the Angus Deluxe isn't too shabby. Still too much bread on the thing though. I'm going to try to have them make it a double next time I go.

  • SIV||

    For some reason I read Angus Deluxe as "Angie Dickinson".

  • ||

    McDonald's profits are up.

    No dogs were harmed.

  • Shmenge||

    Big Kahuna Burger!

  • ||

    Mmmm That is a tasty burger.

  • ||

    No dogs were harmed.

    I wouldn't be so sure about that. This is McMystery Meat we're talking about, after all.

  • Ska||

    When did the McGyro hit the menu?

  • Kristen||

    I'd love to have a Wendy's & a McD's right next door to each other so I can get fries from the one and a burger from the other. I find at McD's I have to customize my burger to hell & back in order to get something remotely recently-cooked tasting.

    Although now Wendy's has those natural cut fries, which are pretty close to McD's, depending on which franchise you go to.

  • A Serious Man||

    They can have my In'n'Out burger from my cold dead, potentially clubbed fingers.

    And if you don't want to share someone's medical costs, don't vote for or demand the government socialize healthcare.

  • ­||

    I finally watched the movie named after you the other night, by the way.

  • ||

    Nice article, Bart, but paragraphs 3-5 were a bit unfocused. I realize you were trying to provide "balance" by also criticizing the right, but the examples were a bit weak, and not particularly analgous.

    Plus, by mentioning St. Michele, you got the anti-homo commenters all exercised. And invited OTP.

    Private to SIV: You Lie! EOM

  • SIV||

    The level of discourse is at rock bottom now, I hope you're proud of yourself Tonio.

  • ||

    This fetishism over "healthy" (whatever the fuck that means to the individual doing the bleating) food has really become tiresome. Food is a necessary fuel, not a goddamn religion.

  • Brett L||

    Confess your heresy and repent! Say to thine enemy the Great Deceiver, 'Get behind me, Transfat!' Or ye shall suffer through inummerable bores yammering on about the moral superiority of their food choices for (what seems like an) eternity.

  • ||

    I lol'd. :-)

    Boring is absolutely the right word for it. Whether it is vegetarians or the "paleo" trend or organic or anything else I DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR FOOD CHOICES. Unless you are making something delicious and want to share with me, please stop talking to me about why it is you ingest certain things and not others. Believe it or not, none of these things has magical powers for good or for evil.

  • Brett L||

    You're obviously not getting it. Bring forth... the comfy chair!

  • The Spanish Inquisition||

    NOBODY expects the..oh, bugger...

  • ||

    Jeez, so I guess my notion of food as pleasure is just totally out of bounds.

  • ||

    Remember: Health food doesn't make you live longer, it just makes it seem longer.

  • ||

    +100

  • Mainer||

    Remember when the artificial fats were introduced (Olestra, I believe was one). One of the complaints was that if you could make, say, ice cream that was just as tasty and satisfying, but did not make you get fat, then the moral dimension of indulging would be lost. In other words, what kind of world would it be if one could eat all the ice cream you want and not suffer for it ? I clearly recall some editorials pointing out this "problem"

  • deathportal||

    ...and if you ate too much of those WOW! (their word not mine) Doritos with Olestra, there was that annoying problem of the dribbling shits, too.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    I believe it was called "anal leakge" on the warning label.

  • Xenocles||

    "Gas with oily discharge" is the phrase I remember from that era.

  • Mainer||

    "..as likely to succeed as trying to make a straight man gay."

    Gotta agree with that....although I did have a strange dream about Pierce Brosnan once...........

  • Tony||

    For the price of a single fast-food combo meal you can buy a week’s worth of fruits and vegetables.

    I'm gonna need evidence for this claim. $5 for fruits and veggies for a whole week? Really?

  • JD the Elder||

    I dunno where you live, but around here a decent-sized combo meal isn't $5 either. I was stunned the other day at Wendy's to realize that a combo could cost upwards of $9, and we're not even talking some giganto-meal monstrosity. Meanwhile, back in the 'hood, lemons are something like 5/$1, mangoes are about fifty cents, bell peppers are maybe 33 cents, etc. So yeah, I think it's possible.

  • ­||

    Obviously it depends on how much you eat. If you're a monkey it will be more.

  • Jim||

    It may not be for a whole week, but it would damn sure be more than enough for several meals (whereas the combo is only one meal).

    Rice and beans in particular are extremely cheap. I've done the math (as I eat a lot of fast food for lunch when I'm at work), and I can make something like 6 large rice, bean & cheese burritos for the cost of a chicken nuggets meal from McDonalds. And the majority of that cost is the tortillas; the beans are only like .89/can (and one can makes several burritos), and the rice even cheaper.

    Anyone who regularly shops for produce at a non-organic uppity type of grocery store knows that fresh produce is actually cheaper than processed foods. The canard that poor people only eat fast food because it's cheaper is a lie.

    They may eat it because they don't have as much leisure time to cook, and I wouldn't argue that because I don't have any numbers on it. But it damn sure isn't due to cost.

  • Tony||

    The relevant comparison is cost per calorie. Corn-based products (junk food, soda, fast food, etc.) is cheaper and calorically denser than fresh veggies. The reason it's cheaper, yet more complex to produce, is because of government subsidies for corn. On a calorie-per-calorie basis, yes fast food is cheaper and it has a lot to do with government favoritism.

    The alternative argument is that fat people are too stupid to do math.

  • WTF||

    The alternative argument is that fat people are too stupid to do math.

    Tony must be fat, because he clearly can't do math. Show us your calculations of cost per calorie for fast food v. bulk rice, dried beans, etc. Notwithstanding the fact that the non-fast-food calories are healthier, which you lefties are always whining about.

  • Untermensch||

    Why won't you take that statement to its logical conclusion then?

  • Untermensch||

    Unless you're Tony, I wasn't addressing it to you. Tony admitted that it was government intervention that created the problem, but the solution for Tony is more government intervention, not getting the government out of the business of doling out subsidies.

  • Tony||

    What makes you think I'm for anything governments ever do?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Because you're a Democrat, Tony.

  • Jim||

    ...but the fucking point is that by being overweight, they're consuming too many calories already, so caloric density is actually against your argument.

    I'm saying they could lose weight, and to it for cheaper than the foods which are too dense in calories which they are paying more for.

  • Untermensch||

    Sorry, the reply to the above was meant for Jim, but now I see that I misread his comment as against me rather than against Tony any way, so never mind.

  • Brett L||

    Combo meal w/ sugary soda is about 1500 kcal and $5.00. That's 300 kcal/dollar. A can of beans has 2 servings at 210 kcal/serving for $0.89. call it 450 kcal/dollar. So, myth busted.

  • WTF||

    Once again Tony just makes shit up and argues in bad faith. Shocking, I know.

  • ||

    I tend to take your side on this argument, generally, but you're comparing beans by the serving vs. fast food by the meal.

    A serving of beans is not a meal.

    Try cost/calorie on a bag of sugar, or some red delicious apples, if you want to play his game.

    In actuality, people don't eat until they get to their desired number of calories, they eat until they get to their desired level of 'fullness'. You can hit that level much more cheaply with beans than you can with Fritos.

    It costs a lot more to hit your desired level of fullness at McDonald's than it does when cooking at home, and getting full at McDonald's will blow anyone's calorie budget if they do it too often.

  • Brett L||

    The comparison was bean and cheese burritos made at home vs. a combo meal. Just ballparking, you're paying the same price for 66% of the calories. Eating until you're full rather than until that burger and all the fries is gone is just a bonus.

    Doing ALL the calculations, tortillas are (based on internet calculations $1.50/10 and 120 kcal each -- so that's 800kcal/dollar. Buying shredded cheese is about 400kcal/dollar -- block cheese is cheaper by weight. Salsa is $3/16oz jar. 36 kcal/serving. Using 0.5 oz servings thats 380kcal/dollar.) Basically none of the ingredients cost more per kcal than the value meal, so you can eat more calories for less. As argued previously.

  • Brett L||

    Notice also that I'm comparing kcals per dollar in both, so serving size is irrelevant. A person could eat 1500 kcal worth of bean burritos made at home for cheaper than they could buy the value meal.

  • ||

    Convenience counts too right? Time is money for some of us.

  • Brett L||

    Sure, but the cost basis argument is shit. As someone who was a full time university student with a basically full-time job, the opportunity cost of cooking versus being able to stop for 5 minutes and eat in the car was high. But honestly, people who are worried about cost per calorie don't have a time-money tradeoff. Their time is automatically worth less than their money.

  • Restoras||

    The alternative argument is that fat people are too stupid to do math.

    WTF?

  • WTF||

    You can make your own tortillas, too, and really drive down the cost. So yeah, if you are willing to do some work, you can eat very cheaply and also healthy.

  • ­||

    The old adage is that you should go around the outside perimeter of the grocery store and not into the middle. Is that an adage?

  • Restoras||

    So, in my grocery store I'll end up with butter, angus steak, and potatoes. Yum!

  • ||

    Go to a farmer's market and buy what's on sale. I do this all the time.

    I did not harm any dogs.

  • Fluffy||

    Aldi sells bananas for 49 cents a bunch.

    A pint of blueberries is $1.49.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    A friend of mine got sick of morons like you saying you can't eat on very little money...He lived for a month "quite happily" on a single dollar a day. He continued to run 7 miles each day too. (I do not endorse this choice...i eat the fuck out of anything i see and I own guns so that I dont have to run).

    think of that, in Boulder, CO 30$ a month for food.

  • Emperior Wears No Clothes||

    Your pal eats a dollar of food per day and runs 7 miles each day?
    Where I come from (Normalville) we call that Anorexic, or sometimes OCD.

  • ||

    That's all I spend on fruits and vegetables for a week.

  • NotSure||

    How arrogant and extremist, to believe that one can own ones body, only the government has the right to determine what we can eat, drink and smoke.

  • JD the Elder||

    Personally, I find it fun and inspiring to think about Bittman being forced to subsist on nothing but grapes, carrots, lima beans, and winter wheat. Anybody care to give the over/under on how long it would take before he broke down and begged for a cheeseburger?

  • Tony||

    In short, the government should dictate what you eat for the sake of the collective good.

    No, since obesity-related healthcare costs government a significant amount of money, it has an interest in reducing these costs. It's not like we got to be a fat, disgusting country without government help (though as usual the libertarians assume the status quo is the freest possible world). Food is only cheap because of government subsidies for staple crops produced by industries on the dole--surely that could be re-jiggered for healthier ends.

  • Mainer||

    Tony|7.12.11 @ 1:18PM|#
    Much appreciated. What I often fail to acknowledge is that often I'm merely playing devil's advocate. I try not to have too many deeply held beliefs, if I can help it.
    M: An argument isn't just contradiction.
    O: Well! it CAN be!
    M: No it can't!
    M: An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.
    O: No it isn't!
    M: Yes it is! 'tisn't just contradiction.
    O: Look, if I *argue* with you, I must take up a contrary position!
    M: Yes but it isn't just saying 'no it isn't'.
    O: Yes it is!
    M: No it isn't!
    O: Yes it is!
    M: No it isn't!
    O: Yes it is!
    M: No it ISN'T! Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.
    O: It is NOT!
    M: It is!
    O: Not at all!
    M: It is!
    M: (exasperated) Oh, this is futile!! (pause)
    O: No it isn't!
    M: Yes it is!

  • Tony||

    You're really obsessed with me.

  • Tony||

    In short, I do believe that government must determine what to eat for the collective good.

  • WTF||

    Spoof? It's getting hard to tell.

  • Realist||

    Intellectually there is no difference.

  • ||

    Well right now the government is eating all my fucking money.

  • Tony||

    Also, fascism and communism are good when run by the correct people.

  • Barack Obama||

    Workin' on it.

  • Untermensch||

    though as usual the libertarians assume the status quo is the freest possible world

    Of all the stupid comments from Tony, this has to be up there. In fact, it’s so stupid, I’m guessing this is sock puppet spoofing Tony, since even Tony isn’t that stupid.

    On the off chance that that is the real Chony, why then to libertarians want to change things if this is the “freest possible worlds”? I don’t know anyone here who even “as usual” defends the status quo rather than arguing against it vigorously. If anything, Tony is more likely to defend the status quo on most issues.

    Who, exactly, have you seen call for extending current government subsidies and policies here? I can’t think of a single person (except the occasional visitor from your neck of the ideological woods).

  • Realist||

    "....since even Tony isn’t that stupid."
    Bullshit!

  • WTF||

    How about we end all subsidies and get government out of the health care business? Problem solved! See how easy that is?

  • Restoras||

    Here's a thought, why not charge overweight people for being overweight with higher health and life insurance premiums, since obesity causes so many health problems? If they want lower insurance premiums, they have to lose weight, and can do so by eating healthy.

  • PJ||

    But utopianist progressives argue that would be unfair!

    So instead, we have state governments mandating equal charges for everyone, regardless of age, sex, bad habits, or preexisting conditions.

    That's why healthy 20 year olds who never see a doctor cannot afford health insurance.

  • Tony||

    So old people who can no longer work get to pay the most for health insurance in your system. You can try to force behavioral changes through financial incentives, but it is a little unfair to punish people for aging.

    Everyone should pay the same, a tax, so that this issue is taken care of in a non-profit-based way. And to reduce cost increases caused by shared risk increasing with widespread obesity (and aging), we can find ways to reduce obesity (can't do much about aging). I happen to think we could reduce obesity by making the food market freer, on balance.

  • Tony||

    So old people who can no longer work get to pay the most for health insurance in your system. You can try to force behavioral changes through financial incentives, but it is a little unfair to punish people for aging.

    Everyone should pay the same, a tax, so that this issue is taken care of in a non-profit-based way. And to reduce cost increases caused by shared risk increasing with widespread obesity (and aging), we can find ways to reduce obesity (can't do much about aging). I happen to think we could reduce obesity by making the food market freer, on balance.

  • Tony||

    Any government policy change to address obesity is attacked by you guys as nannyism, even if it has nothing to do with increasing government meddling in the food market.

    If you're talking to the health insurance corporations, I'm sure they charge whatever maximizes profit.

  • Tony||

    Any government policy change to address obesity is attacked by you guys as nannyism, even if it has nothing to do with increasing government meddling in the food market.

    If you're talking to the health insurance corporations, I'm sure they charge whatever maximizes profit.

  • Tony||

    Any government policy change to address obesity is attacked by you guys as nannyism, even if it has nothing to do with increasing government meddling in the food market.

    If you're talking to the health insurance corporations, I'm sure they charge whatever maximizes profit.

  • Tony||

    Any government policy change to address obesity is attacked by you guys as nannyism, even if it has nothing to do with increasing government meddling in the food market.

    If you're talking to the health insurance corporations, I'm sure they charge whatever maximizes profit.

  • Realist||

    We've already be jiggered once....no thanks on the re-jiggering!

  • Realist||

    Should say ...been....

  • Mainer||

    Love Boudreaux's McCelery argument. Gonna use that one.

  • ||

    Can I just express how much Tony pisses me off?

    He has the gall to call a woman who's raised 20 foster kids a "welfare queen" for letting the state (who made the decision to take these kids away from their parents in the first place) pay money for these kids. Of course, we all know that the state doesn't pay enough to foster families to cover the cost of having the kids (and I cited legislation about that).

    I think the idea of someone who actually does the work of taking care of unwanted kids pisses liberals off. They don't want anyone except the state itself helping the needy so that they can then profess how "heartless" conservatives or libertarians are.

    I still haven't harmed any dogs.

  • Martin||

    This shouldn't affect me. My wife and I have a bipartisan agreement to raise our calorie ceiling.

  • Bünzli||

    "Does Your Body Belong to You?"

    That's a stupid question. The war on drugs made it clear that the answer is NO.

  • Brett L||

    I believe only if you wish to terminate a pregnancy is the current correct answer.

  • Kristen||

    And in cases of rape-rape.

  • ||

    I had McDoland's for breakfast today. Go fuck yourself, progressive shitheads.

  • ||

    Hope you got your apple slices.

  • ||

    You kiddin' me? I'm a REAL G -- I threw them RIGHT in the trash. YEah!!!!!!!!11

  • Geto Boys||

    "... [R]eal gangsta-ass niggas don't run for shit / Because gangsta-ass niggas can't run fast."

  • ||

    Because their lowriding pants trip them.

  • ||

    major fail on including illegal immigrant legislation in this list.

    to believe it's even remotely analogous to nannystate crap is beyond stupid

    whatEVER one thinks of border issues they are not remotely analogous to telling people what they can eat or who they can fuck or marry

  • Kroneborge||

    +1

  • Kroneborge||

    "For the price of a single fast-food combo meal you can buy a week’s worth of fruits and vegetables."

    Bullshit. Vegetables are expensive. I think I spent $6 on a rodecho, and I've seen orange and yellow bell pepers at $4 a piece.

  • ||

    you have to shop around a bit, but ime almost any hood, especially one with mexican or asian immigrants has at least one place where one can find cheap-ass produce.

    i found a place in the hood i work that, for example, has had limes as cheap as 10 for $1 ETC.

  • ||

    also, SOME vegetables are both nutritious AND cheap

    cabbage comes to mind. tons of fiber, vitamins, etc.

  • ||

    Then you're shopping in the wrong places.

  • ||

    I have strong opinions about the government, but I think this is one of the topics where I can honestly say that if they go far enough I would lead a revolt.

  • Tony||

    Then it really has been blown way out of proportion.

    That's a little your fault you know...

    Food production is not a free market in this country. You'd be revolting in defense of a system in which government favoritism significantly distorts the market anyway. If industry-government ties are causing obesity, why not try to solve the problem by making the market freer? That's so objectionable it merits civil war?

  • ||

    people who eat too much , and especially shitty food are causing obesity.

    physicians, heal thyself(s) and shit

  • Michelle Obama||

    Fuck all y'all crackers. You're eventually gonna eat what I fuckin'-A *tell* you to eat.

  • erikjay||

    Weren't we supposed to be beyond food now, taking a pill or two for sustenance? Aha! The big corporations suppressed the invention, along with the water-powered engine, and have us all addicted to TASTY MORSELS! There is no hope. Dogs will be eaten, but won't be harmed. The state is nothing if not sensitive -- the pooches will get a sleepy time shot and drift into dreamland. So cute!

  • Rotm||

    Hasn't intervention in the food market by governments usually led to mass starvation. Having them work to stamp out "unhealthy" food that also is some of the most calorie dense should scare people to death.

  • ||

    nah, look how stalin's centrally planned farm initiatives worked out in the Ukraine, or the great leap forward in china, they showed us capitalist pigs how it's done.

  • ||

    The answer to the title question is no our bodies do not belong to us they belong to the state and we just rent them from uncle Sam to generate revenue for our handlers to pay the Chinese to keep supplying us with cheap products and fiat money. The government already protects us from confusing and difficult decisions like the choice to use drugs. We are not to mess with the productivity and decorum of the collective. The republic is dead the transformation is complete. We are just waiting for the barbarians to crash through the gates.

  • nike air max||

    is good

  • tory burch||

    Maybe my body don't belong to me.

  • steve||

    Are your body are belong to us

  • ||

    In a recent study of fast food vs. fresh food from the grocery store, it was significantly cheaper to feed your family of 4 at McDonalds than to buy them a healthy meal of fresh food. Produce that is not used in the manufacture of processed foods costs more due a lack of farm subsidies for these items to keep the price down. If government would let the market decide, it would stop farm subsidies all together and quit interfering with the price of food completely rather than trying to tell a private business what they can sell.

  • ||

    Thank you, Tracy, for instilling a little logic into all the yammering. Libertarians who are displeased because they feel they "have" to look at overweight young women, but are equally displeased and think the government is "trying to tell them what to eat', are paying no attention whatsover to which BigAg foods and food products -- that would be wheat and corn, y'all -- are actually subsidized; and those talking about "take a little more time to shop" are not parents working two and three jobs and dealing with public transportation. I guarantee it.

  • ||

    Thank you to the usa. Does reason magazine get their full mail. The democrats and republicans recently made laws against protestors and religious acts. Laws that allow stealing. MISTAKE! I am prophet messiah Jesus. I cant protest and have money and kids. War length. We want afghanisatn free.We want the national violent 30 40 year old male gangs that formed. The group talked about me openly and now my kids missing and used.A person would be hurt. Some are struggling. Not allowing family bu they have millions and their freedom. They suggest violating laws as freedom and righteousness.We caught some names Such as nancy pelosi, tom daschle.? Not real liberals hateful jerks. Any talk of low grade weed legalization. But crooked white doctors allowed. Big city has job openings not small towns.Small towns to rubble? and their kids. Billionaires share, no! CIa aint smart

  • ||

    Fruit and vegetables ARE expensive. And no, you cannot buy a week's worth of fruit and veggies at the same price of a McDonald's meal. And I'm not even shopping at the local farmers market! Healthy food is expensive! I'd really like to know who the fuck comes up with these random statistics.

  • ||

    Nonsense: For the price of a single fast-food combo meal you can buy a week’s worth of fruits and vegetables.

    No, you are the one speaking nonsense. Seriously, a fast-food combo mealmay cost anywhere from $4-$7--remember YOU said a SINGLE combo meal could purchase a week's worth of BOTH fruit and vegetables.

    At my local stores, the cheapest produce available is still over $1 a pound, and that's a "special sale" or coupon needed...that's not trimmed, it includes all the waste, which we have to pay for.

    And the more typical prices are more like $2.50 and up a pound, from lettuce to fruits to potatoes.

    And it's not ready to eat, so someone who is currently subsisting on fast food, now would have to prep and cook, also clean up.

    But a week's worth of produce for the price of a single combo meal?

    There's nothing worse than a disengenuous writer.

    I call UTTER Nonsense and BS on that one my friend. Utter nonsense.

  • ||

    "At my local stores, the cheapest produce available is still over $1 a pound, and that's a "special sale" or coupon needed...that's not trimmed, it includes all the waste, which we have to pay for."

    "At MY local stores", he says.

    You make the error of assuming that every store in every urban and rural centers has the same price points as YOUR local store?

    I'd be interested to know what you'd make of the difference in price points for the same brand of organic meat at two stores in the same city that happen to be in different neighborhoods.

    Healthy food is often priced HIGHER in POORER neighborhoods.

    Perhaps some food policy study.

    To put it another way, your experience is not everyone's experience.

  • Outer Sunset Local||

    Within a half mile I can buy high quality produce for a week for two people for $20 to $25. This includes fresh herbs and some of it is even organic. That includes bananas, blueberries, or grapefruit for breakfast, lettuce and tomatoes for lunch, and at least one veggie for each dinner. This, in San Francisco, not exactly the most affordable city in the country. If you throw in a 20 lb. bag of rice for about 25 bucks and an equal bag of beans for a bit more and you could be eating very cheaply and healthfully for not very much money. Certainly less than eating Mickey D's five times a week.

  • ||

    Referring to US immigration laws as a mere "permission slip" devalues the whole article. It's a perfect example of why people refer to libertarianism as "loonytarianism".

    The net costs of illegal immigration are higher crime, children in the schools, and racist entitlements that the groups are seeking to impose along with a socialist agenda that ruined the countries they left.

  • شات بنت مصرية||

    Williams

  • شات بنت مصرية||

    Williams

  • شات||

    Williams

  • شات بنات||

    Williams

  • شات بنات مصر||

    Williams

  • شات بنات مصرية||

    Williams

  • دردشة||

    Williams

  • دردشة بنات مصر||

    Williams

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement