Food Freedom

Taxes and Restrictions Masquerading as Federal Dietary Guidelines

A panel of government-appointed experts has recommended new food taxes, eating less meat, restricting food marketing, and banning some food at the local level.


Last week the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which meets every five years to help set federal dietary policies, issued its final recommendations.

The recommendations of the committee, first established in 1990, "provide the basis for federal food and nutrition policy and education initiatives."

Critics, including me, have blasted the current DGAC's possible recommendations. For example, the committee had considered sending text messages to obese Americans. That outrageous suggestion doesn't appear to have made it into the final, 500-page report.

Prof. Marion Nestle calls the report "courageous" and seems taken aback that its recommendations have been viewed as the least bit controversial.

So just what does the DGAC conclude America's food policies should be over the next five years? One of the more inane and controversial DGAC recommendations is to implement a host of new food taxes.

"Align nutritional and agricultural policies with Dietary Guidelines recommendations and make broad policy changes to transform the food system so as to promote population health, including the use of economic and taxing policies to encourage the production and consumption of healthy foods and to reduce unhealthy foods," the committee report states. "For example, earmark tax revenues from sugar-sweetened beverages, snack foods and desserts high in calories, added sugars, or sodium, and other less healthy foods for nutrition education initiatives and obesity prevention programs."

Later on, the report also suggests offering incentives for consumers to buy fruits and vegetables.

"[T]axation on higher sugar-and sodium-containing foods may encourage consumers to reduce consumption and revenues generated could support health promotion efforts," the report recommends. "Alternatively, price incentives on vegetables and fruits could be used to promote consumption and public health benefits."

Even more troubling than the recommendation for new food and beverage taxes—which I've skewered numerous times over the years—is the suggestion that state and local food "bans" have a role to play in food policy.

Another of the report's most controversial recommendations is its claim that Americans should consume less meat.

"Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with lesser environmental impact (GHG emissions and energy, land, and water use) than is the current average U.S. diet. A diet that is more environmentally sustainable than the average U.S. diet can be achieved without excluding any food groups."

And then there's the report's blanket support for the USDA's deeply flawed National School Lunch Program, along with its suggestion to "limit marketing unhealthy foods to children[.]"

Last year, I warned readers here to expect the final DGAC report to contain a steady diet of taxes and other intrusive policy recommendations.

"The DGAC is actively dreaming up ways for the government to meddle in your diet," I wrote. "A look through the transcript of last week's hearing reveals the word 'policy' (or 'policies') appears 42 times. The word 'tax' appears three times. And the word 'regulation' appears 13 times. The words 'meat,' 'salt,' 'soda,' 'sugar,' and 'trans fats' came up countless times in the context of things you really should be eating less frequently."

So what's next? The USDA and Dept. of Health and Human Services will consider the DGAC report recommendations, along with public comments, before adopting a final set of guidelines.

Not surprisingly, those who produce foods like meat and soda have vowed to fight the DGAC recommendations. That's good. Consumers can also have their say through April 8. Open your mouth before the DGAC shuts it for you.

NEXT: Watch Matt Welch Talk Criminal Justice, Racism, and the Oscars on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday at 10 a.m. ET

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  1. the use of economic and taxing policies to encourage the production and consumption of healthy foods and to reduce unhealthy foods

    Why again does this not work with income, payroll, estate, etc?

    1. Every thing you do must be controlled in some form. Your God Emperors.

  2. Does publish censor comments that are just a string of expletives? That’s the proper response to any fytw proposal.

    1. Damn squirrels (or I suck at HTML). Meant to say:

      “Consumers can also have their say through April 8. Open your mouth before the DGAC shuts it for you.”

      Does censor comments that are just a string of expletives? That’s the proper response to any fytw proposal.

  3. “..the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which meets every five years to help set federal dietary policies, ”

    “provide the basis for federal food and nutrition policy and education initiatives.”

    These words. I just. Can’t. Here we are in the 21st century, and these words are like something out of an unpublished Orwell novel discovered in a trunk somewhere. Were they actually written in East Germany? Were they jotted down in the 1930s by some low level hack in FDR’s administration?

    1. the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which meets every five years

      What is it with apparatchiks and 5 year plans?

      1. I noticed that, too. I feel sorry for all the children born just after new guidelines come out. They’re forced to struggle for survival and adequate nutrition during their first four years without the benefit of the updated guidelines.

        1. This. I believe it was just last week that the Gov came out and said that it’s “guidelines” for colesterol were all wrong . After all these years of telling us not to eat foods containing colesterol now they said…oops, eat all you want because we have just discovered that bllod colesterol is genetic and not dietary.

          20 years ago I went on the Atkins diet to shed a few pounds. The fact that blood colesterol was genetic and not dietary was one of the foundations of Dr. Atkins book. He poobahed the Govs then hatred for eggs and told you to eat as many as you want as they were actually good for you instead of poison. He aslo pointed out the dental health of people such as the Inuit( fine teeth) who ate a meat only diet vs. the dental health of grain based diests like the Ancient Egyptians (rotten teeth) et. al.

          Since we will now be getting tax credits for grocery store receipts will we be required to show those receipts to our Obamacare doctors in order for Obamacare to determine IF, and what percentage of our healthCARE costs Obamacare will cover if we get sick? You just know the eventual tragectory is to tie our diet to our health insurance/healthcare costs.

  4. We’re going to tax unhealthy foods, making it more expensive to buy them, which will discourage people from eating them!

    Then we’re going to raise the minimum wage, making it more expensive to hire young and unskilled workers, which will encourage employers to hire them!

    1. Unemployment problem solved!

      Not that it matters, all young people will be going to college for free so there’s no need to find them jobs, right?

      1. Yep! And then all those college graduates are going to be gainfully employed where they can put that degree in South American Head Dress Customs where it can do society the most good….McDonald’s.

    2. I think they just say that the reason for the tax is to alter behavior but they believe that it won’t (or not that much) and they’ll have an additional source of revenue. It kinda worked with cigarettes (granted they’re highly addictive).

      1. Anti-depressants are highly addictive.

        1. Pharma lobby is bigger and spends more than the tobacco lobby.

    3. Don’t forget that we’re probably subsidizing farmers and agribusinesses growing those very same foods (sugar!). Paying for it coming and going.

    4. The food pyramid is literally killing people. They are also trying to push crap like grains, grain products that are cheap to make, fit within Big Ags business model.

  5. Brief Biographical Sketches of the DGAC

    Chair: Barbara Millen, Dr.P.H, R.D.: Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA (through 2009). Dr. Millen is currently the Founder and President of Millennium Prevention, Inc., a U.S.-based start-up company with a public health mission, which develops web-based platforms and mobile applications to encourage healthy preventive lifestyle behaviors for clinical settings and corporate, academic, and community wellness initiatives.

    Nothing to see here, just move along folks.

  6. The plan must be working. Ground chuck was $5.50 lb at Publix yesterday.

    1. The price of beef has already been trending upwards for 5 years due to less supply thanks to drought, in combination with greater demand abroad for US beef leading to more imports. However, our betters won’t be satisfied until beef is a luxury, like for our enlightened, progressive Western European friends. I mean, have you seen the French? Why can’t we be skinny healthy like them?

      1. “thanks to drought”

        NY Times headline next week:

        Climate Change Already Threatening Food Fecurity For Millions of Americans

        1. That meme already exists:

          In a speech to the United Nations recently, President Barack Obama said that climate change is a more serious threat than terrorism.

          So, why aren’t more Americans terrified?

          Yet, climate change already has invaded the homeland, reducing to ruins the homes of thousands of Americans, turning them into refugees of a sort. In his U.N. speech, Obama listed just a few of the terrors we already have experienced: “Along our eastern coast, the city of Miami now floods at high tide. In our west, wildfire season now stretches most of the year. In our heartland, farms have been parched by the worst drought in generations, and drenched by the wettest spring in our history. A hurricane left parts of this great city (New York) dark and underwater.”

          1. I thought his first inauguration was when the oceans started receeding and stuff?

            1. Yes, but his powers only work if you believe in him. And we, as a nation, didn’t believe in him enough.


              1. We didn’t believe enough and failed to give Clapp to Tinkerbell or something.

            2. But if the oceans get smaller, won’t we have fewer fish for our healthy diets? You just can’t win!

          2. Midwest drought, yes, but minimal soy/corn crop impact (thanks to GM)!

      2. Because we banned cigarettes.

      3. Don’t forget all the corn that’s going into gas tanks instead of livestock.

        1. How could the government subsidizing and demanding the diverting of a huge quantity of the corn that would otherwise be used to feed livestock cause feed shortages for livestock? I mean aren’t we using it to make inefficient fuel to burn in our vehicles? None of this makes sense. Let’s just blame drought.

          1. ? so the seed grain of the farmers of Nebraska had been seized by order of the Unification Board ? and Train Number 194 had carried the unplanted harvest and the future of the people of Nebraska to be consume by the people of Illinois. “In this enlightened age,” Eugene Lawson had said in a radio broadcast, “we have come, at last, to realize that each of of us is his brother’s keeper.

            1. +1 Holodomor

        2. And all the marginal row crop land that would be beef pasture w/o subsidy.

          Then there are the USDA feeder cattle purchases to keep prices high.

          There’s the Treasury and Fed’s “weak dollar” policy to boost exports.

        3. The corn as fuel versus food is a common misconception, and one of the many flaws in the recent WRI report regarding biofuels as they neglect to consider co-products.

          Ethanol is produced from starch – protein, lipids, other nutrients are available as feed.

      4. In France a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese serves as a full meal for a family of four.

        1. The French have a very good diet. Lots of natural fats, meat, veggies, etc. They have the lowest incidence of heart disease in the industrial West.

          1. Huh?

            The French eat a shit-ton of grain. If anything their diets are more grain heavy than Americans. It’s not at all uncommon for the French to eat entire meals of bread.

            In fact meat consumption in France is not only lower, it’s been dropping over the last 15 years.

            And tying meat consumption to incidence of heart disease? Really? That’s all there is to it?

    2. Wasn’t many years ago I could eat well for more than a week for what it cost to buy small chuck roast a couple days ago. The plan is working.

  7. You guys, they’re just trying to help us be healthy.

  8. You know who else had a detailed dietary policy?…

    1. Jim Jones?

      1. Wasn’t he the creator of the Kool-Aid diet that turned out to practically be poison?

        1. That’s the Flavor Aid liquid purge diet.

          1. I’m really sorry for the Kool-Aid people. They had nothing to do with it even indirectly, yet their product is a synonym for cultish, suicidal behavior.


            1. Free publicity!

    2. The goofy little mustache fellow?

      1. Super Mario?

      2. Charlie Chaplin?

      3. Janeane Garofalo.

    3. Slim Goodbody?

    4. The God of the Israelites?

    5. The Diet of Worms?

    6. The Kanamit?

    7. Jim Jupiter, the healthiest man in Chicago?

    8. Kim Jong Un?

    9. Frito Lay – (I know, “eat all you want, we’ll make more” isn’t very detailed, but it’s short and to the point.)

    10. John Harvey Kellogg

      In Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life, he cataloged 39 different symptoms of a person plagued by masturbation, including general infirmity, defective development, mood swings, fickleness, bashfulness, boldness, bad posture, stiff joints, fondness for spicy foods, acne, palpitations, and epilepsy.

      Kellogg’s solution to all this suffering was a healthy diet. He thought that meat and certain flavorful or seasoned foods increased sexual desire, and that plainer food, especially cereals and nuts, could curb it

      Fun guy.

      1. There is some truth to the second part. Thai red curry with beef is my favorite date night food. Or rare hamburgers with dark beer.

        1. I’ll grant you that.


          Kellogg also supported more extreme measures (read: stuff that would get your medical license revoked today and lead to many, many lawsuits) for people with particularly nasty masturbation habits. For boys, he suggested threading silver wire through the foreskin to prevent erections and cause irritation. For girls, he advocated, and sometimes employed, an application of carbolic acid to the clitoris to burn it and discourage touching it.

    11. Roseanne Barr?

  9. I love me a heaping dollop of taxes!

  10. The social engineers just get loonier and loonier.

  11. My report,get the government out of the food business . No farm bills or telling us what to eat.End sugar ,corn and cotton give away’s.

    1. price incentives on vegetables and fruits could be used to promote consumption and public health benefits

      I suspect they’re not talking about getting rid of the subsidies and marketing boards that keep supply restricted and prices high.

      I myself have no problem getting a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables. Potato chips and fries, pumpkin pie, strawberry ice cream, jalapeno poppers, apple turnovers, peach cobbler, fried green tomatoes, carrot cake – just a few of my favorite fruits and vegetables. And plenty of fermented grape juice, of course.

  12. “Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting

    No, just fucking no. Sure, people aren’t eating enough vegetables, mainly leafy green veggies, but usually they aren’t eating enough protein either. And, when people get protein it’s usually coupled with stuff that tends to contain sugar (ketchup, BBQ sauce, wing sauce, steak sauce, General Tso’s sauce, etc.) or they eat it with a bunch of bread.

    Where the hell do they get that people should eat less meat and dairy? It’s not better for anyone to go without meat. Meat is good for you. And so are milk and eggs. Eat that shit and don’t forget your spinach and broccoli. Then stay away from the cake and pie.

    It’s not complicated.

    1. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee are a bunch of dolts who spend the time they don’t devote to fucking up our lives patting each other on the back and telling themselves what incredibly brilliant people they are.

      If they were even mildly intelligent they’d look at their own track record which amounts to a long list of failures and realize they’re the last people who should be giving advice on anything to anyone.

      1. Busybodies don’t have self awareness. The only way to deal with these people is to ignore them and then when they try to force the issue, give them a swift and effective kick in the ass.

        1. I’m building one of those cartoon ass kicking machines, a ten boot peddle operated model. Bring ’em on.

    2. But, but, but they’re experts!

      Are you now claiming that you know more than they do?

      Your arrogance is astounding!


      1. You can find it on Google, so it must be true.

      2. Poor Tony. Life couldn’t not suck for anyone that stupid.

    3. “Where the hell do they get that people should eat less meat and dairy?”

      Is it because those tend to have more calories than equivalently sized portions of alternatives?

      1. That doesn’t make them less healthy. Protein and carbs have the same amount of calories per gram. Fat has more calories per gram than protein and carbs, but so what? It doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. Right now, the average person eats too much in carbs and not enough in fat and protein, especially protein.

        1. If a serving of vegetables has less calories than a serving of meat and we’re generally taking in too many calories it makes sense to recommend eating the former more than the latter (of course the government recommending anything doesn’t make sense, so there’s that)

          1. Keep counting calories, that is what I always say.

            1. I’ve never understood the people who are trying to see how much ‘trans fat’ or ‘HDL vs. LDL’ or such, I’ve always just looked at the calories.

              1. This is a mistake. Actually looking for all that is a mistake. Well, avoid trans fats. You should be looking at the carb, fat, and protein content. And when you look at the carbs, are they sugars, complex carbs, fiber, what? Also, try to determine if the food has a lot of some vitamin or whatnot. Also stop worrying about cholesterol and saturated fat. Eat them and don’t worry about it.

          2. The government making recommendations and policies about what I eat doesn’t make sense but I’m going to defend and argue for it.

            /True Scotsman

            1. I’m sorry if you can’t see the difference between X and the government doing X. Perhaps a Bastiat quote will help you?

              “As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
              ? Fr?d?ric Bastiat, The Law

              1. To help you FUQ (I’m feeling quite charitable today), just as Bastiat says one can be for religion, education, and equality but be against government efforts in those areas, one can think the advice to eat less meat makes sense but be against the government giving such advice.

                I hope this helped.

                1. 1. Insert key
                  2. Turn key
                  3. Release key
                  4. Unleash the Botard!!!!


              2. ….it makes sense to recommend

                ….government recommending anything doesn’t make sense

                1. Haha, you’re delightfully simple.

                  Yes, it makes sense to recommend generally that advice, but as for the government recommending anything, it doesn’t.

                  1. So it makes no sense for the government to recommend unless the government is recommending?

                    1. So you dont get the Bastiat after all, huh.

                    2. It’s impossible for me to get get anything as I don’t have an Esg after my name.

                    3. It’s a q

                      I’m channeling John to further enrage the Botard.

                    4. Bo S. Preston Esquire

                      Bo & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

          3. Meat has the most nutrients of any food. Its ok to eat meat. Eat veggies, meats, natural fats, some fruit and no fucking grain.

            1. …or sugar.

            2. I’ve found whole grain to be ok for me in moderation. I do stay away from sugar(s) though. And potatoes.

              1. That’s racist.

              2. I find whole grains too hard to digest comfortably, but my gut is a high-maintenance drama queen. So it’s potatoes and white rice for me, as occasional treats instead of a staple. I won’t touch grain foods that don’t taste good; they’re not very nutritious, so they’d better be delicious.

          4. If a serving of vegetables has less calories than a serving of meat

            What’s a serving? And being healthy is more than eating fewer calories. Hell, sometimes it involves eating more calories.

            and we’re generally taking in too many calories it makes sense to recommend eating the former more than the latter

            No it wouldn’t. Eating too many carbs starts you on a hormonal cycle that leads to eating…more carbs. You will put on weight this way. Eating more fats and proteins starts you on a hormonal cycle that keeps you feeling fuller longer. This is also true when you eat more nutritious foods, like the things they advise (veggies and nuts, etc.). But telling people to cut down on meat is a big mistake if you want them to be healthy.

  13. the committee had considered sending text messages to obese Americans. That outrageous suggestion doesn’t appear to have made it

    Good. The committee should jolly well better be sending *snail mail* to obese Americans, so they have to *walk* to their mailboxes.

    1. Heh. It’s like those NFL ads that tell kids to go online to for outdoor play ideas.

    2. The fatties drive to the mailbox.

  14. DGAC

    Who? Send me a text message, I’ve got my pre-written response all ready:

    Piss off, bitches!

    1. I was going to respond with, “Fuck off, slaver.” but that works too.

  15. First stage removal. First stage removal. Streets prohibited to non-permits in one hour. Streets prohibited to non-permits in one hour.

  16. OT….

    I’m sure Ron will post this in the upcoming week, but it seems researchers have come up with an explanation for the “pause” in AWG. Just a teensy, tiny phenomenon of unexplained decades-long temperature fluctuations in the Atlantic and Pacific. These oscillations were discovered in the mid-90’s, but somehow the computer climate model designers found them not worthy of inclusion.

    News article here

    Paper abstract here

  17. OT: Pennsylvania Senate liquor privatization bill.

    Let me get my shocked face ready. OK:

    “No one has yet made the case to me as to why it would be better for the people of Pennsylvania. We know it would toss a lot of high paying union jobs to be replaced with a lot of lower paying nonunion jobs,” Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, of Upper Merion said.

    And later in the article:

    But Wolf’s stance on modernizing over privatizing could result in a veto if it makes it on his desk.

    1. Well then, the obvious answer to all our country’s problems is high-paying union jobs for everyone!

    2. We know it would toss a lot of high paying union jobs to be replaced with a lot of lower paying nonunion jobs

      Yet, Daylin Leach also supports marijuana legalization that would toss a lot of high paying union jobs (cops) out to be replaced by much lower paying liquor control board jobs.

      1. Consistency is for the little people.

  18. I have been waiting for years for someone to tell me what to eat and how to eat it. Put it in a graph and tell me what to do.

    1. I believe there were women whom you could have paid to have done that for you in the interim.

      Jus’ sayin’

      1. I guess so, but then I would have to bathe fairly frequently and start talking to them, and that is just not something that I currently desire. So, the government should just take of me, you cold-hearted libertarian.

        1. but then I would have to bathe fairly frequently and start talking to them

          *furiously scribbles notes

          1. read all about it in my book, Girls Like Guys Who Are Clean and Pretend to Listen to Them: a guy’s guide to getting girls who enjoy giving orders to guys

  19. Our tax code is how politicians reward friends, punish enemies, purchase votes/contributions and commit unconstitutional social/economic engineering. Whatever is left goes toward funding necessary government.

  20. Immigrant and natives political views quite similar

    “But fears about political externalities are only plausible if immigrants have political views that diverge greatly from those of natives. This recent Cato Institute analysis by economist Sam Wilson and Cato immigration policy analyst Alex Nowrasteh suggests that the divergence between the two is generally small and nearly nonexistent among second and third generation descendants of immigrants. Using data from the General Social Survey, the authors show that immigrants and their second and third generation descendants have very similar views to those of native-born Americans whose ancestors came to this country four generations ago or longer. “

    1. Second or third generations show up in what, 50 to 75 years? Assimilation seems not to be a speedy process.

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  22. The war on obesity will follow the same arc as the wars on poverty and drugs.

    Failure of a govt war on anything means more money must be spent. We will blow billions in an effort to pry cheeseburgers from the sweaty clutches of fat people.

  23. The report is full of creepy language:
    “altering individual and population dietary choices and patterns” (ALERT! ALERT!)
    “coaching or counseling sessions”
    “peer-based social support”
    “electronic tracking and monitoring of the use of screen-based technologies”

    Sustainability is a catch-all excuse for all manner of behavior control:
    “Behaviors of all participants in the food system are central to creating and supporting sustainable diets.”

    “New well-coordinated policies that include, but are not limited to, agriculture, economics, transportation, energy, water use, and dietary guidance need to be developed”

    Those freaking dictators need to be stripped of all semblance of power over others. They really think they can–and should–control millions of people at the most fundamental level of what kind and how much food we put in our faces. Pro “choice” my arse.

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  25. Not to Godwinski an already dead thread,???????, but you know who else had Glorious Five Year Plans?

    1. Dead threads are sad, but not as sad as 5 year plans…

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