By now, you’ve probably read or heard on the news that Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City wants to eliminate the option of buying sugary drinks with food stamps.
I’m never thrilled when the government wants to regulate things like what people eat. It’s a little too “big brother” for me. Yet, there is an obesity problem in our country that is affecting our children who can’t easily make decisions for themselves. The adult obesity problem has a hidden cost of $73 billion a year.
Something needs to be done about the problem, and Bloomberg, New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, and New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines believe that banning the use of food stamps for sugary, nutritionless beverages is one of the solutions.
There has been a lot written in the blogosphere about the proposed elimination. I thought I’d point you to some of the posts that have made an impression on me.
New York Times, No Food Stamps for Sodas: If you’re looking for the reasoning behind the proposed soda elimination, this is the place to go. This New York Times Op-Ed piece written by Farley and Daines explains why the request has been made.
Civil Eats, Banning Soda for Food Stamps’ Recipients Raises Tough Questions: A look at some of the reasons for and against the soda elimination. In the end, Civil Eats author Andy Fisher proposes that if New York City is granted its request, it should be required to create “programs that encourage food stamp recipients to purchase locally grown foods at farmers markets, community supported agriculture farms, and other community-oriented venues.”
Food Politics, New York Says no to using food stamps for sodas: Marion Nestle points out that USDA has consistently rejected similar requests and gives her alternative solution. She would “much prefer incentives: make the benefit worth twice as much when spent for fresh (or single-ingredient frozen) fruits and vegetables.”
The Village Voice, Bloomberg’s Food Stamp Soda Ban: Illegal, Immoral, Fattening?: Neil deMause gives us some good background information here on why the USDA has not permitted similar bans in the past and whether or not a ban like this would be legal.
Grist, NYC moves to take soda off the food-stamp shopping list: “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” writes Tom Laskawy, and he believes we’ve gotten to a place of desperation where a measure like this is necessary.