Thursday, October 02, 2003
Separating Church and State
posted by Julie |
Senator Fitzgerald (R. Ill.) gives it a shot
U.S. food politics make great drama.
So this'll be fun to watch: Senator Peter Fitzgerald, a Republican from Illinois, is planning to introduce a bill that would kick the U.S. Department of Agriculture off of the team that writes the dietary guidelines for the U.S. (which are widely observed outside of the U.S., although the reasons reasonable people would look to this country for dietary advice elude me).
It has occurred to Fitzgerald that perhaps we shouldn't have our diets designed by food salesmen.
Would you go to your neighborhood liquor store for tips on abstinence? Ask at your corner tabac for a nicotine patch? Rely on your butcher for vegan recipes? No you wouldn't. That would be silly, and you know it.
But we regularly ask the folks responsible for raising, rearing, importing, exporting, and managing the sale of agricultural products what we should eat. And then we're surprised when they suggest that we eat what they grow and use what they import, by the bushel if possible, even if their recommendations do run directly counter to the findings of nutritional researchers, those folks who have been telling us for years that the little cartoon pyramid is just plain wrong.
So who would help us figure out what to eat? If the Senator succeeds, the other folks at the table would take charge, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, whose job is maintaining and assuring our health, safety, and well being. That does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
The good news is, this is a senator who reads, who keeps up. The bad news is, he doesn't appear to be seeking another term, and so he has precious little time to make this thing happen. The good news is, he's making some noise, the bad news (or is this good news? I've lost track), he's been an independent thinker, which in Washington makes him a contrarian, anathema. So while what he says is true, and necessary, and obvious, and good for people, still he will have trouble getting the support he needs.
His cause is well supported by our heroes, Marion Nestle, Walter Willett, and Kelly Brownell, among others, whose careers are dedicated to helping us all understand what sort of fuel helps us run and what sort makes us break down. But it's not likely to be supported on the Hill by anybody with a state with a crop.
Ah well, I wish you luck, Mr. Senator from Illinois, and a long and healthy future, free from mysterious combine accidents. I just can't wait to see what you'll do next.
Senator Fitzgerald's Bill
An interesting sort of fellow
Who won't be running for a second term
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