Food for Thought

Since Zak is off this week and I had a bout of insomnia last night (coffee in the morning and caffeinated tea in the afternoon are my suspected culprits) I slept in this morning and headed out for my run around 8.

My workouts this week are going to be scheduled with a 5K this Saturday in mind. I’m hoping to beat my 5K PR (personal record) from this spring and run it faster than 23:21. Getting my runs in early this week so I can rest toward the end of the week and (hopefully) kick my own ass on Saturday.

I ran 5.28 miles at comfortable pace this morning in just under 43 minutes. I came back and pounded some watermelon and watermelon juice.

Watermelon Juice

I hope no one else wanted any.

Before I headed out I replied to an email that appeared in my inbox this morning forwarded to me from a family member. A quick Google search reveals the author of the contents of the email forward is Bob Lonsberry, a conservative local radio talk show host. I replied before I knew who wrote it, and on my run I decided it was blog worthy.

Have something to say on this? Please do. I’d be curious to know what you think, whether you agree with me, agree with the author or none of the above. It’s lengthy but I eat this stuff up (literally?) and I won’t be offended if you disagree with me or if you choose skip this and move on to something you find more interesting in cyber space. The original article is in bold. My comments are italicized.

Bob Lonsberry’s original article can be found here.

NOW THEY’RE COMING AFTER YOUR FOOD

I told you so.

Years ago I said the next target was food.

In its tireless quest for power and money – done in the name of protecting you – the government has gobbled ever-larger chunks of the economy.

Tobacco, health care, communication, energy, banking, the automotive industry.

And now food.

A national soda-pop tax has been proposed, the Urban Institute wants to go after food producers and family budgets the way it went after tobacco companies and smokers, and food is about to be called a hazard to your health.

The majority of foods on the shelves of a grocery store ARE a hazard to our health.

Ostensibly, because you’re fat.

Actually, because the government wants your money.

The one habit people can’t give up is eating. The one portion of the economy that truly controls the people is the food supply. In the past the government sought to protect it, now it wants to conquer it.

More correctly, now the government wants to conquer you.

And it will do so in the guise of protecting you.

As you may have noticed, Americans are fat. Some two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. It is a national shame. And it is a threat to our health.

But it is also a threat to our freedom.

Because when the activists point to the supposed $200 billion in annual health-care costs blamed on people being overweight, they are really just building a case to take away from you the ability to decide – or afford – what’s for dinner.

This is in the news because, in addition to the soda-pop tax, the Urban Institute has a new study out that calls for dramatic taxes on “unhealthy” foods.

Before we try to figure out what “unhealthy” is, let’s figure out what the Urban Institute is. Basically, it’s the government. It was founded by the government and is funded by the government – 62 percent of its budget comes from the feds – and since the days when Lyndon Johnson got it rolling, it has been a steady apologist for and advocate of socialist, big-government programs.

And it says food should be treated like tobacco. Producers should be taxed or sued into massive revenue-sharing agreements, and consumers should be heavily taxed.

The theory is that people who produce or eat food are bad, that they are the cause of the obesity epidemic and they must be forced to pay. The problem is that they are us. While a minority of people smoke, a majority of people eat.

And that’s a good thing.

So is the system of producer, processor and distributor that takes the tiniest fraction of our population and from its agricultural productivity feeds not only our country but also millions of foreigners. Astoundingly, we are being trained in this society to bite the hand that feeds us, to resent the farmer as a polluter and barbarian, somehow cruel to both the environment and livestock.

We have been taught phrases of contempt – like “factory farm” and “big agra” – and the prejudice against our food supply is palpable. We have been conned into hating something we don’t know the first thing about. Large processing companies – that feed countless people here and abroad – are not thanked for their efficiency and productivity, but are castigated and condemned.

Then there are the folks who eat.

In the thinking of this report and its supporters, the free-will choices of Americans on something as elemental as what they eat or drink should be done away with. In order to get Americans to eat what and how much the all-powerful activists want them to eat, high taxes on “fattening” foods are being pushed.

While politics usually bore me, this is interesting. Here’s where this op ed loses credibility with me.

The problem – beyond the tyranny – is that there is no such thing as a “fattening” food. It doesn’t really matter what you eat, it matters how much you eat and how much you exercise.

Um, no. This could not be further from the truth. Sure, some things in moderation won’t make you fat per se, but what you eat DOES matter to your health. 2/3 of a Americans are overweight because they are eating the wrong things. Eat fruits and vegetables, eat meat and cheese. As Jillian Michaels says, if it came from the ground or had a mother, then eat it. But if it was processed and had all it’s nutritional value stripped from it, stay away. Does soda have a mother? What plant did a Cheeto come from? If you eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, you will automatically push away from the table when you feel full. You can get away with normal activity and maybe some moderate exercise and be healthy.

All food contains calories – little units of energy. In partnership with your level of physical activity, the number of calories your body takes in determines whether or not you gain weight. Twinkies are fine, depending on how many you eat. Fruit can be loaded with calories and an all-fruit diet – involving being idle and eating to excess – can make you just as fat as anything else.

Errr… no, Twinkies are NOT fine. Sorry. There is just no room for these in a healthy diet. Homemade cookies? Yes. Twinkies with 28 ingredients (thanks Holly!) are not fine.

If soda pop is bad for you, what about ice cream? Or chocolate? Or beef? Or cheese? Or eggs? Or pancakes and syrup? Or whole-wheat bread? Every one of those things has the innate capacity to contain at least as many calories as soda pop.

The majority of these items have one thing in common: High fructose corn syrup.

So where does the taxing start?

Tax everything that contains high fructose corn syrup. If you are outraged by this, stop buying these products. It’s that simple. I don’t buy this stuff. Problem solved. I buy dark chocolate. I buy real maple syrup. I make my own pancakes with flour and sugar and baking powder. I buy sprouted grain bread. I buy free range eggs. I buy cheese from grass fed cows. If I bought meat I would buy grass fed beef and free range chickens. Stop buying garbage that contains high fructose corn syrup and transfats. These food companies that seem to be an innocent victim here have taken advantage of us and have done everything they can to make food taste good and be made cheaply so we’ll buy their product over the next guys. High fructose corn syrup and transfats. These ingredients are cheap and make food taste good. They are addictive. Foods containing these items have been processed to the point where they are void of any nutritional value. Our bodies don’t know what to do with these faux foods and therefore turns it into fat. And not just any kind of fat. Toxic, cancer causing, hormone disrupting, dain bramaging fat.

That question can’t be answered.

I just did.

Smoking is a hazard to our health, no one will argue that. Why can’t the government make it illegal to smoke cigarettes? We have the freedom to make the choice to smoke or not. The tobacco industry has a right to sell their crops. Or something. I’m not as well versed on politics as I am on food and human nutrition. So I guess the same goes with soda and junk food. They can’t make it illegal to sell it or buy it, so they’re going to tax it? Works for me. I certainly won’t be paying that tax just like I don’t pay the tax on cigarettes because I don’t buy them. The more people take on that ideal the better. I fully believe that processed food is just as bad for us as cigarettes. They are also just as addictive.

So the objective becomes: Making sure this tax never starts.

The groundwork now being laid for this government raid on the food industry and on our family grocery budgets must be pounded back into the hole it dripped out of. Activists talk about the cost of obesity and how this money could fund health-care reform and how people need to be protected from themselves. They feel empowered by the current regime in Washington.

But they must not be allowed to take control of the food supply. They are about to try a money and power grab, and in so doing will interfere with our ability to feed our children.

And that’s not a matter of convenience or philosophy, it is a matter of survival.

I told you so.

They’re coming after food.

And we’ve got to stop them in their tracks.

What do you think about a proposed tax on soda? If you buy soda, would you still buy it you had to pay more taxes on it?

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18 Responses

  1. Loved that article!!! I never buy soda so I could care less whether it’s taxed or not. If other junk foods were taxed, I’m not sure whether that would be enough for people to stop buying them. They still buy cigarettes, alcohol and probably will still buy soda.

    I think they should stop using HFCS. I really do. Aren’t there several countries who have banned it?? It’s in so many things people eat it’s not even funny. Why don’t they focus on making our foods healthier first?

    You look buff, by the way. 🙂 In your after run photo you look fantastic!

  2. I totally AGREE!

    I don’t buy soda…but my spouse does…. will he pay more??…probably, but I know he is ready to start cutting out things. (nice wifey influences here) yipee.

    I will say this… taxes have a way of waking people up who otherwise would continue eating/smoking/ or drinking unhealthy things.

    like how “weight” motivates a lot of (US, ME) into eating healthier foods.
    (if you are thinner by nature, you wouln’t necessarily need to worry about what you eat (my husband) until your health is affected….)

    lots to “chew on” hahaha

    THANKS for the GREAT ARTICLE! (did I say I AGREE)???

    your “watermelon”?? juice looks refreshing! can i have some???

    • Yes Cindy, you make a good point that I didn’t touch on…. that there are people who can eat junk and never get fat but that doesn’t mean your health isn’t being effected.

  3. so funny- this was the topic of discussion at my dinner table last night. i really didnt talk much at dinner- i was more just listening to what my family was saying because i honestly didnt know how i felt about the situation. I do not think that taxing “unhealthy foods” or just simply soda itself will make people stop eating healthy and miraculously become healthy. just like smoking- if people want to smoke- they will smoke- they do not care how much they spend on it. i think if we want america (or the world) to be healthy we have to implement more programs geared to a healthier society. i know NYC has a rule that all nutritional info has be displayed at chain food restaurants- such as starbucks, mcdonalds, etc. if u go into a starbcuks in nyc they will have the amount of calories, fat, sug, etc displayed right in the window of where the pastries are stored. and right underneath each drink on the board. so if the goal is to make america healthy- i dont think taxes will do it. if the goal is to just make more money for the government- then yeah sure tax the soda- i dont buy it. but if u tax candy- which i do buy- im going to be paying those taxes- and im going to buy the candy no matter what price it is. just like organic food- its way more money than “regular” food- but does that stop me from buying it? nope. i buy it anyway. i know this comment is pretty much all over the board and that is because i do not know what to say about this situation! haha just typing whatever comes to mind!

    • I followed right along with you Tina! I think you are right. I’d like to believe people might think twice if there’s a tax on these foods… some will, some won’t.

      And yes, I pay more for organic so you’re right, if it’s something you really want, you’ll pay more for it.

  4. “I fully believe that processed food is just as bad for us as cigarettes. They are also just as addictive.”

    You left out the part where exposure to 2nd hand processed food is also bad..for…..er………wait.

  5. I agree with everything you said. Are you surprised? I think we are two of the same, really. I believe in soda tax, alcohol tax, cigarette taxes, etc. Tax the things that are not necessities, is what I say. Chicago had a bottled water tax, which everyone ranted and raved about, but people are paying for something they can get FOR FREE FROM THEIR TAP, so a tax seems appropriate.

    Ugh, I have so many thoughts on this that I won’t make this the longest comment ever but I will just say: amen, sister.

    • I didn’t know about the bottled water tax, but I’m all for that too! They are talking about deposits on ALL plastic bottles here in NY and I think it’s a great idea. Sure, some people will probably still throw plastic bottles into the trash instead of recycling them, but maybe it will encourage more people to use reusable water bottles, and at the very least those dudes that fish bottles out the trash for the .05 can fish water bottles out too.

  6. Whoa, that was a long blog, but a goodie. I don’t know how i feel about the tax on soda or “junk” foods. I don’t buy either for myself and children but i do buy them for my husband. Like most guys they just don’t care. So a part of me would like to see the tax so maybe i can tell him go buy all that crap yourself but another part of me say NO DON’T DO IT, since he will make me buy it anyway and i’ll be paying more. YUG! All though he is one to total agree that the gov. is putting “cancer” in our foods to control population.

  7. Great post and great comments and replies. I so agree with your comments on the article.

    I agree that a tax may not deter all, or even most, from buying certain items. However, I think it brings attention to the fact that these foods contain ingredients that are really bad for you. And hopefully, it’ll make (at least some) people stop and think if they really want to eat that particular food item.

    I used to eat some HFCS as well as processed foods but have recently really focused on cutting them out. Do I escape HFCS 100% of the time? No. But I am much more aware that I am voting with my dollar every time I go to the grocery store…

  8. interesting…i like YOUR comments much better than his. although i understand what he is saying, i think you should be the one leading the FDA. but hey, that’s just my opinion 🙂

  9. You totally had every answer I had!! You should contact that guy and “answer” him!!!! PLEASE OH PLEASE!!! I drink soda about once a month usually at people’s houses or at restaurants. We don’t buy it at home but my hubby gets it out at restaurants. If we did buy it I’d probably buy less if it was taxed. I think the more important topic is the HFCS. That’s the stuff to target. Not just soda. The good news is the trans fat elimination in New York and other cities. That’s the first step!!!
    -A

  10. I fully agree with you. When I eat out I never buy anything with artificial sweeteners, and most of the time I stay away from sugar in general.

    Of course I am slightly biased in this because I have my own garden and hunt for my own meat (so much cheaper and healthier than “mass-produced” foods). Plus, when I am no working, I am exercising.

    If people want to lose fat, they just have to eat healthy and actually engage in physical activity.

    I am very happy to know some other people out there care for their bodies like I do. I thought I was the only one.

    • Thanks for your comment. I’m a vegetarian, but have often thought if I were to ever eat meat again it would be meat that was hunted, like venison. That’s the only way I could do it now.

  11. Hi,
    My google alert for HFCS picked up your post.
    Enjoyable comments on Lonsberry’s diabtribe.
    I think taxing beverages with HFCS is a fine idea.
    However, the Corn Refiners Assoc. is one powerful lobby. In April 2008 the FDA declared that HFCS was
    not natural. By August it had reclaimed its natural status even though the FDA has yet to define what
    natural is. Realistically, there might be a tax on all sweetened beverages, but not one specifically for HFCS. I think the best way to get the HFCS out of our food supply is to tackle the food manufacturers at the cash register.
    Take time to write or email food manufacturers that you won’t buy their product unless they eliminate HFCS. I am presently trying to make cereal companies aware of the need to change back to sugar, especially since they market to children. I urge you to read Dr. Dana Flavin’s summary, “The Metabolic
    Dangers of HFCS”( LifeExtension.com).
    To your health.

    • Wow Cynthia, thanks so much for your comment.

      I definitely “vote with my dollar” and avoid buying HFCS products at all costs, no pun intended. I will look for The Metabolic Dangers of HFCS at my local library, thanks for the rec.

      • Hi Alison,
        Dr. Dana Flavin’s summary is found at
        LifeExtension.com. Just type in “High fructose corn syrup”.
        Cynthia

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