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Guest post: Beware Food Police!

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, December 10th, 2010 - 50 comments
Categories: dpf, food, health, Satire - Tags:

To arms! To arms! The Food Police are coming!

Remember how I led you in the battle to get junk food back into schools? It was a near-run thing. If we hadn’t acted, the days of the 12 year-old who can’t climb a flight of stairs without wheezing and going red in the face might have been numbered.

Fortunately, National let the junk food back in and cut anti-obesity spending.

But just when you thought victory was ours, my friends, Tony Ryall has gone turncoat on us. He’s launched a program run by Foodstuffs and the Heart Foundation that is filling the heads of defenceless 9 and 10 year olds with propaganda such as telling them that a diet of hot chips and fizzy drink is bad for you.

If these food Nazis turning school into modern-day gulags they won’t learn to think for themselves! Do we want our youngsters to be ‘taught’ how they should eat by so-called ‘experts’? This ‘education’ might make them ‘healthy’ and ‘well-informed’ but is that really what we want for our kids?

What ever happened to free choice? If you’re a 9 year old and you want to stuff chips into your face until you’re obese no-one should tell you otherwise.

Look at me, I’m the very model of personal responsibility. That’s what kids should be aspiring to.

National has hypocritically turned its back on the campaign for food choice but we’ll never stop fighting. Into the breach boys!

By David Farrar

50 comments on “Guest post: Beware Food Police!”

  1. DJames 1

    The government wants our children to grow up healthy and strong. Don’t give them the chance! Say no to healthfood campaigns!

  2. hobbit 2

    Rather than spending more of my money on campaigns, how about we sting thick parents who allow / give their children junk food with a medical surcharge, based on how fat / unhealthy the child is etc.

    Even the thickest of parent’s would wake up..

    • Bright Red 2.1

      So, you want to put the cost of unhealthy eating on to the eaters and their parents. Cool. But rather than a complicated medical assessment and billing procedure which would be open to appeal etc, don’t you think it would be more efficient to up the tax on unhealthy food.

      …. just like Sue Kedgley from the Greens has been calling for all these years.

      bet you never knew you were a greenie, hobbit.

      • TightyRighty 2.1.1

        even better, just cut off free healthcare to those who are obese. less tax, very simple medical assesment and we can start balancing the budget

        • Lanthanide 2.1.1.1

          Yeah, because working out who is obese is a really simple medical test. All you do is work out their BMI, right?

          Using BMI, the entire All Blacks team are labelled as obese. BMI is also the tool behind all of these reports saying “30% of Americans are obese”, in other words it is probably overstating the case because it is simple. Likewise, BMI doesn’t work very well on people of ethnicities that are naturally larger or ‘big-boned’, like most polynesians.

          Are you also going to cut off free healthcare for other people who have eating disorders, like anorexics and bulimics?

          There is still a lot of scientific debate over what makes someone obese and genes are a prime factor, as well as a variety of metabolism disorders. It seems unfair to punish these people for something that they may not have much control over.

          • TightyRighty 2.1.1.1.1

            i mean proper fat people. pretty easy to spot if you ask me. they take up two seats at mcdonalds, drive temporarily low slung cars through a KFC drive through. steal the last pie at 4pm from the bakery down the road. You know what i mean.

          • Sean Brooks 2.1.1.1.2

            The All Blacks are obese, other sportspeople are much fitter and healther, its just because the NZ media feed the BS to our public that they are somehow super sportspeople.

            • QoT 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Are you serious? I’m not even a rugby fan but I can appreciate those guys have to be pretty fucking fit to do their jobs. Is this some new BMI-defending tactic? Do you think powerlifters are totally unhealthy too since all of them qualify as obese, if not “morbidly” obese, using BMI? *is intrigued*

        • Bright Red 2.1.1.2

          so, you’ll let people with serious health needs go untreated. Tightyrighty is a great name for you,

          Also, cut off free healthcare for professional sportspeople, smokers, pregnant women, people who drink alcohol, and people who drive? After all, they are doing something that is dangerous for their health, just like obese people.

          Maybe DoesntthinkitthroughRighty would be even more apt.

          • Jum 2.1.1.2.1

            Bright Red,

            Tightyrighty wants all these people to achieve the ultimate and reduce the costs of healthcare; death, I think it’s called…

          • TightyRighty 2.1.1.2.2

            I’d wholeheartedly agree with smokers, as long as you axed the excise tax on smokes, ditto for alcohol. proffesional sports people from memory pay an ACC levy, as do motorists. pregnant woman? that’s a step to far.

            maybe dim red would be better for you

            • Bright Red 2.1.1.2.2.1

              “proffesional sports people from memory pay an ACC levy” – Everyone pays an ACC levy on their work income. What about amateur sports then? No access to public healthcare if you skydive, or mountain bike?

              So, why are you banning acess to public healthcare for some people with risky lifestyles/life choices/conditions but not others? Why is, for example, a woman who gets pregnant less culpable for her decision to increase her healthcare needs than an obese person?

              • TightyRighty

                pregnancy could be an accident, at least it gives life whether it is or isn’t. Fatness on the other hand, is unlikely to be an accident. unless you repeatedly tripped and fell with an open mouth into a warm bucket of boneless fried chicken supported by a pile of cheeseburgers, garnished with chocolate and then someone accidentally hooked your tap up to a coca cola factory. Fatness tends to be a selfish thing too, no life springs from being fat, unless the chicken wing lost in a roll of flab spawns some new bacteria.

                hmmmmkay?

            • bbfloyd 2.1.1.2.2.2

              T.R.. now you’re just being childish…i’ve noticed a tendancy lately for right wing apologists to resort to personal abuse once your “arguments” are dismantled… why is that, i wonder?

      • don’t you think it would be more efficient to up the tax on unhealthy food

        Which sounds great in theory and I truly wish were possible to do efficiently, but would in fact more than likely lead to an absolute nonsense as with the GST in Australia (and Labour’s proposals to fiddle with it in NZ).

        Who decides what’s “healthy”? On what basis? Is there a sliding scale of “healthiness tax” or a flat one once a food reaches “x unhealthiness”?…

        Just about everything is unhealthy if you eat too much of it. Or even if you just eat it in isolation. I generally have a glass, maybe two, of red wine with dinner. At that level, current research (which will probably change tomorrow) says it’s healthy. Yet if I eat too many eggs for breakfast each morning, they become unhealthy…

        I like what Kedgley’s trying to do, but implementation will be a nightmare (other than for the corps of bureaucrats classifying and regulating to their hearts content).

        • Bright Red 2.1.2.1

          I’m mainly just taking the piss out of these idiots, Rex. Not a huge fan of Kedgley’s idea either.

          • Rex Widerstrom 2.1.2.1.1

            Ah, fair enough.

            Not wanting to sounf like Phil Goff on the Foreshore and Seabed, but if I could just challenge my own position here… 😛

            I wonder if it’s not possible to apply some sort of tax break to healthy stuff that’s easily classifiable… like anything grown in a NZ market garden or orchard, say?

            Encourage healthy eating and give a boost to local growers…

            [Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been forced to pay almost $8 a kilo for grapes at the supermarket when I drive each week past kilometres of vines stretching seemingly to the horizon…]

    • Jum 2.2

      National are Hypocrites and Liars.

      Certainly we have a lot of thick parents Hobbit; they voted the JKeyll hobbit in.

  3. Billy Bunter will cream that skinny Ryall if he ever catches him!

  4. Bill 4

    Didn’t McD’s get the heart foundation tick?

    And can we assume that fizzy drinks with controversial sugar substitutes such as asparitame will be made made widely available and marketed as ‘safe’ and ‘healthy’?

    Can we assume that there might be some ‘sweeteners’ offered to get schools to stock particular corporate brands rather than others?

    Best bit is that many (reasonably in my mind) point to complex carbohydrates, not sugar and fat as the cause of obesity. Sumo wrestlers eat enormous portions of rice to pack on the weight, not sugar drinks and animal fats. And if you want your body to store energy, there is no point in eating sugar or fat which both release energy over fairly short periods of time. But eat wheat and other carbohydrates and you will have a slower release of energy over a longer period. And if you are not burning said energy, then your body will store the excess as fat.

    Take a look at processed food and you’ll struggle to find any that aren’t packed with carbohydrates. And you might want to take into account the impact of the likes of the Margarines and Spreads Association http://www.margarine.org.uk/ and question their motives in promoting a ‘health’ message internationally that is anti-animal fat.

    Big business. Market penetration. Johnny Boy. Mates.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      The corporates have long learnt how to manipulate and use ‘scientifically healthy criteria’ to get the consumer certifications that they want.

      0% fat free, but we will fill up the food with a greasy synthetic which feels like fat in your mouth, even if it is undigestible crud.

      Would be nice to see how much McDonalds pays the Heart Foundation annually.

      We need more informed and discerning consumers.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        Would be nice to see how much McDonalds pays the Heart Foundation annually.

        Well, in Australia, according to ‘The Age’…

        The fast-food chain has had to make significant changes to its recipes and is paying $330,000 a year to earn the Heart Foundation’s tick of approval.

    • Lanthanide 4.2

      FYI, from wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame_controversy
      FDA officials describing aspartame as “one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved” and its safety as “clear cut”.

      Aspartame controversy holds about as much weight as climate change denial in my books.

      Also, I read a study that showed that having healthy options on a fastfood menu makes people more likely to buy from that restaurant, even if they don’t buy the healthy option. Basically it’s sort of a bait-and-switch your brain plays: because McD’s have healthy options on the menu, you decide to go there, but when you actually come to make the decision, you’ll just buy the regular Big Mac anyway, because your brain feels soothes because you considered the healthy option first. I haven’t explained that very well, but it probably explains a lot behind healthy options at fast food places – even if they haven’t done studies, they can probably see that after they add healthy options, their total revenue will go up, along with the unhealthy options rising in revenue also.

  5. If the difference between banning a person from doing something (in this case consuming their food of choice) and encouraging them not to escapes those on the left, I’d suggest any future criticism of “authoritarian attitudes” from the likes of Collins et al be given the “humour” tag.

    • felix 5.1

      Don’t you want to ban people from smoking tobacco by requiring a prescription?

      • No not quite, I want to facilitate the continued access to tobacco by people with a pre-existing addiciton by having them able to obtain a one-off certification (a “smokers licence”) which allows them to smoke as much as they like whenever they like.

        A minimal inconvenience I know, but the best way I can think of to preserve their freedom while preventing those not presently addicted from developing such an addiction.

        I’d also support warnings on fast food boxes (starved for both time and sustenance I ate my first Big Mac in – literally – ten years the other night. One look at the quantities of sugar and fat helped ensure at least another decade will pass before I indulge again) and other educational efforts.

        • felix 5.1.1.1

          I’d say that constitutes a ban for anyone who doesn’t already smoke, wouldn’t you?

          • Rex Widerstrom 5.1.1.1.1

            In a sense, yes. But there’s also a ban on my consuming powdered rhino horn but as I’ve never had it in the first place its much less of an imposition on my personal freedom to insist I don’t take up the practice than it is to permit me to do so and then attempt to ban me from it.

            Whereever possible I try to balance undertaking initiatives which are undoubtedly well meant against infringing on personal freedom, particularly of those who’ve been sanctioned to undertake a behaviour and are then told it’s not allowed.

            I also weigh the danger versus the loss of freedom. I am sure that there are some who’d argue it’s possible to smoke and not get ill as a result (“my grandad smoked 40 a day and lived to 93…”) but it tends to be anecdotal and something of a lottery. Smoke, even in moderation, and chances are you will fall ill. However it’s entirely possible to have the odd pie with no real ill-efects – especially if you then spend the next 45 minutes running madly round a playground and provided you don’t have one every day.

            I guess it depends on the value you place upon freedom versus health and a whole lot of other things. I admit I tend to place freedom – even the freedom to make errors of judgment – on a level it’s hard for much else to over-ride.

            • felix 5.1.1.1.1.1

              “Smoke, even in moderation, and chances are you will fall ill. However it’s entirely possible to have the odd pie with no real ill-efects – especially if you then spend the next 45 minutes running madly round a playground and provided you don’t have one every day.”

              This is the crux of the contradiction. A single cigarette probably isn’t more significant, health wise, than a single pie. But they can both have devastating effects if you have them all the time.

              But with the pies you trust people to regulate their own intake of and go for a run, whereas with the cigs you don’t.

              • I’m the first to admit I’m not ideologically pure on these sorts of issues, felix. Philosophically I want the absolute maximum freedom for people, provided their activity doesn’t harm others. And even then, we should try to find a way to safely contain it rather than ban it outright (e.g. race tracks for “hoons”).

                But then the humanitarian in me wants to prevent unnecessary harm to my fellow beings. Thus I bend myself into shapes Escher wouldn’t have thought of, trying to achieve the latter while preserving as much as possible of the former.

                That’s why I support decriminalisation of drugs and the availability of heroin etc on prescription. These aren’t activities to be encouraged – quite the opposite – but not only is wagging the state’s big finger ineffective, the state’s right to do so rests entirely on the potential these people have to damage other people – and most of that occurs through criminal activity designed to get money to get drugs.

                But you’re incorrect in saying:

                But with the pies you trust people to regulate their own intake of and go for a run, whereas with the cigs you don’t.

                It’s not about trusting cigarette smokers to regulate their intake. I’ve met maybe half a dozen who can, versus probably a hundred who are slaves to the nicotine addiction, and habit. I believe most smokers will smoke enough cigarettes to virtually guarantee them health problems. Far more than the percentage of occasional fast food consumers for whom it will become a problem.

                But – aside from the fact prohibition doesn’t work – I don’t believe the state has the moral mandate to interfere with the right of either group to indulge in their bad habit of choice.

                Encourage them to reduce or stop; fund programmes to help them adjust taxation to encourage healthier choices; by all means. But as soon as a ban is introduced the state has effectively promised to use its right to use force and impose punishment in order to enforce it. And I can’t accept that that’s appropriate.

                (As an aside I see the Australian Federal Govenment is to make nicotine replacement therapy eligible for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from next year. Well done them).

                • felix

                  “I believe most smokers will smoke enough cigarettes to virtually guarantee them health problems. Far more than the percentage of occasional fast food consumers for whom it will become a problem.”

                  Yes but “occasional fast food consumers” aren’t really the issue, it’s encouraging kids to eat junk food as a normal part of their daily diet that’s the problem.

                  I don’t want to see McDonalds (or whatever) banned but that doesn’t mean I want it promoted in schools. Nor cigarettes for that matter.

                  I appreciate what you say about balancing harm/liberty and the inevitable inconsistencies – I do find it amusing that you and I come down equally firmly on different sides of the harm/liberty argument on different issues – and I do enjoy your perspectives on these issues as I know your views are genuine.

                  In this instance – getting the junk food out of school – I see the potential for long term health gains and I don’t see anyone’s freedom being curbed.

                  • QoT

                    Felix, I love ya, but seriously. “encouraging kids to eat junk food as a normal part of their daily diet”? Any evidence of this actually happening would be totally cool, you know, to establish that this isn’t you drinking the “OMG fatties just sit on the sofa all day eating baby-flavoured donuts!” Koolaid.

                    I mean, if we want to have a discussion about the dubious-ness of schools allowing, if not HAVING to allow, companies like McDonald’s to run reading programmes or whatever in classes, with regard to the financial constraints schools are under and the moral grey area of dealing with the devil to attain a greater good … that’s cool.

                    But making this about OMG HAVING PIES IN THE TUCKSHOP MAKES KIDS FAT AND UGLY is really just not a constructive, or reality-based, conversation.

                    • felix

                      I hear you, and speaking only for myself I’m not coming at this from a zOMG FATTIES perspective.

                      I just think we owe it to kids to give them better choices than “pie or burger”.

                      Not ‘cos it those might make them fat, just because there’s more to nutrition than white sugar and white flour.

                      ps I love you too.

                    • QoT

                      But you *are* using language and phrases that go straight to “eww, fatties”.

                      Who’s saying that the only options available are pies and burgers? No one. But your comment specifically talks about encouraging and promoting “junk” food as though the only options are NO CHIPPIES EVER or EAT ALL THE CHIPPIES. As opposed to, have chippies AND fruit available and allow kids to learn to trust their bodies and appetites and not damage their physical AND mental health by policing them and telling them Being Fat Makes You A Bad Person.

                      Which is frankly exactly what happens when Zetetic and the like make posts pretending to be all about heeeeeeeeeealth which conveniently give them the excuse to bash fat kids.

                      It is up to all of us to check what we’re typing and what bullshit we buy into by using oppressive, bigoted, misleading language.

                      Captcha: scales – your gateway drug into body dysmorphia and eating disorders!

                    • felix

                      When we’re talking about McDs setting up in schools (and I have no doubt that’s where this is heading) then yes, we are talking about promotion – deliberately manipulative, highly effective tried and true promotion – of shit food at kids.

                      It goes way beyond simple availability Rex. Beyond encouragement even, Squillions of $$ beyond.

                      QoT I’m trying to see what I’ve written that’s crossed the line into fat issues. Some kinds of food are just better than others – I don’t see what that has to do with buying into body image propaganda.

                  • it’s encouraging kids to eat junk food as a normal part of their daily diet that’s the problem

                    I get this mental picture of tuck shop ladies hiding behind the salad bar saying “Pssst… kid… you don’t want that rabbit food! Look, over here, a nice creamy donut… you know you want it!”, their noses caked with the confectioners sugar they’ve been sniffing out the back 😀

                    “Availability” and “encouragement” aren’t the samew thing. And “lack of availability” and “reduction in consumption” don’t correlate – just ask Jamie Oliver.

                    (Having said that yes it is amusing how essentially similar principles can assist in arriving at diametrically opposed conclusions… sometimes I almost feel sorry for our politicians. I said sometimes. And almost… 😉 )

                    • QoT

                      [Argh reply fail!]

                      Jesus, Rex, we don’t invoke Jamie Oliver, lest he appear and be a preachy fucking git with no respect for actually figuring out WHY people might not eat perfect homecooked organic meals from scratch three times a day using produce from their local farmers’ market where they know the vendors by first name! A perfect representation of what’s wrong with this post, really.

                    • But QoT, preachy gits are exactly the kind of people that think taking pies out of the tuckshop will “fix” obesity (as opposed to the alternate, which you enunciate so well above and with which I agree wholeheartedly, since it assumes young people have the capacity to learn and know what’s best and trust themselves and make good choices).

                      Which is precisely why I conjured him up… his intentions were good, but assuming that taking the turkey twisters off the lunch menu and grinning wildly at kids while going “Wotcha! Lentils! Awright me old china?! Get this down ya” would solve the problem showed just what a pillock he was, psychology-wise.

                    • QoT

                      Fair enough then! Unfortunately many people refuse to agree with the notion of teaching kids to eat intuitively, because then of course they’ll just gorge on pies until they explode, or something – a behaviour which has nothing to do with food-policing or humans’ natural rebellion against having pleasure-giving behaviours prohibited.

    • Pascal's bookie 5.2

      If the difference between banning a person from doing something (in this case consuming their food of choice)

      eh? As I understood it the policy was that schools couldn’t sell the stuff. That’s not banning kids from eating it, it’s banning schools or contractors from selling it on school grounds. That’s no more banning the kids from “consuming their food of choice” than a ban on religious indoctrination in school time would be banning the kids from having religion.

      • Well smokers seem to be of the opinion that banning their consumption in certain places infringes on their rights, and indeed it does. However in that instance there is a competing right – that of myself and other non-smokers to enjoy a beer or a meal without breathing second hand smoke.

        However I again think outright banning has gone too far – a bar or restaurant should be permitted to cater to smokers if it wished, then I’d just choose not to go there. Things like sports games, planes etc where there are no alternatives but for everyone to share the air – fair enough. Similarly, if a taxi driver smokes he or she should be permitted to allow passengers to do so – but not to smoke when there are non-smoking passengers in their car. Perhaps that’s slicing personal freedom very thinly, but I think it’s worth doing rather than letting it be eroded.

        A kid eating a pie, however, has no ill effect on the kid sitting beside them eating a salad. As I’ve said to felix above, it’s a matter of balancing freedom against other considerations, and not putting too low a price on it.

  6. QoT 6

    The number of issues I have with this post are so substantial I’ve had to write my own. And draft a sequel. Because wow. All I’ll say is you have performed a miracle, Zet, in making me sympathize with DPF. I’ve said a variation on this so often it’s ground a track in my brain: can’t we criticise rightwingers and hypocrites for being rightwing hypocrites, not because they’re fat or ugly or female or gay?

  7. steve 7

    There will always be the excuse of ‘everyone’s body is different” Sure there are those who do have a genuine medical reason for weight gain or lose.
    For the rest it is simple, the input hole is bigger than the output hole, and sitting on your fat arse does not help. You could at least try some form of exercise

    • QoT 7.1

      I have to say I am such a huge fan of diagnosis by internet! steve, truly you have revolutionized the world and done away with all need for medical practitioners for YOU can tell me (or any person) exactly what I’m doing wrong!

      Oh, except that “calories in/calories out” is simplistic bullshit.

  8. peterlepaysan 8

    This is a minefield. What is “healthy” (food or diet) is an endless debate. It is a debate largely dominated by by very powerful lobbyists (that includes the The Heart Foundation).

    The fact of the matter is that we did pretty well in dietary terms prior to the industrialisation of what is passed off in supermarkets as “food”.

    The fact of the matter is that there is plenty of well researched (and yes, “peer reviewed”) studies that demonstrate that that the”healthy” diets of the Heart Foundation and other Nutritional Nazis are irrelevant (at best) or detrimental (at worst) to reasonably good health.

    The actual real hard nosed science underlying diet/health/metabolism has never been addressed by bureaucrats or their ministers.

    Urban mythology and populist causes rule.

    Bugger good health. No votes in that.

    • QoT 8.1

      It’s like the law&order debate, peter. Just a race to see who can implement the most policy based on “everyone know XYZ is bad and my gut says we should fix it by punishing ABC!” because mass public hysteria is never wrong (in the voting booth).

  9. Shaz47 9

    Everyone seems to think kids know the difference between good choices and bad choices and as a well seasoned parent I can assure you they don’t. I would not say to my children you can have anything you want but I might say you can have this or that. Giving your kids $5 and sending them off to school these days is just saying you can have anything you like. Kids today are bombarded with so much advertising ‘if you eat this you will look cool’, drink this and you will have mates hanging with you. Schools need to make sure they don’t buy into this mass marketing to kid for profit. Mac’er and KFC and the like are fine and I like to think it’s a good treat and like everything in this world, moderation is the key. When I send my kids to school I expect the school also says to my kids you can have this or that, limit the choices. One day my kids are going to be parents too. I hope by then they will know the difference between what is important for good health and what is a treat and what is needed to maintain good health for them. And by the way I know very healthy people who some might be considered overweight. I know some very skinny people who are so incredibly healthy it makes you sick. My point; school should be an extension of home and should have similar values. Choose you school well and if what is offered in the tuck shop is important then make sure your kids go to a school that follows your values. Children are not born with expert knowledge on what is healthy, this is learnt behaviour, and we as parents are their teachers.

  10. roger nome 10

    This post gave me a hearty chuckle. Nice work. Now if DPF ever whines about not getting laid, we can just say he’s not taking enough personal responsibility. His lack of effort has left him with a surplus of non-markertable commodities… ouch!

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  • Further measures to support businesses
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