"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as a sorry state as the souls who live under tyranny."
-- Thomas Jefferson
"I'm tired of the government trying to tell you what to eat."
-- disgruntled conservative person
Amazing how a person can be tired of something that isn't happening, doesn't exist, and where there are no plans to ever start.
Yet when either Barack or Michelle Obama do something or My Pyramid becomes MyPlate or the FDA or USDA try to make sure animals are decently cared for in food production or try and prevent food safety problems or food-borne illnesses, someone usually grumbles and grouses and says something similar to "I'm tired of the government trying to tell you what to eat."
Trying to ensure a safe food supply is not the government telling you what to eat. Michelle Obama offering advice on eating better is not the government telling you what to eat.
The government does encourage you to eat American grown food through the USDA, and through farm policy and trade restrictions, encourage you to eat lots of GMO soybeans and high-fructose corn syrup. And those policies make it difficult to find alternatives. However, they still aren't telling you what to eat.
You would think telling citizenry what to eat would be more like a school lunch menu in a George Orwell book:
-- Salisbury steak (1 piece)
-- Mashed potatoes with 2 pats of butter
-- Green beans
-- Fruit cup
-- Chocolate chip brownie
-- Milk (chocolate or strawberry)
This would be the government telling you that "you must eat this" if somehow the government could enforce this and require you to eat it without outside options. As long as you live near a 7-11, you will have other options.
Those in the conservative spectrum could argue that the grumblers aren't being literal, and liberal hippie freaks are overreacting to what they are saying. When someone says "the government is telling me what to eat," how are we supposed to take that?
Let's try looking at their take from their vantage point. They feel like the government is stepping in unnecessarily to take control of a situation best handled by the free market. We've had that free market setup for about 30 years; all the health numbers from obesity to Type 2 diabetes over the last 30 years has proven to be a fail for that policy.
If the right argues that government has no responsibility, then those people should answer to why corporations and farm policy don't address those issues. They have responsibilities. Yes, they should make a profit (this isn't a George Orwell book), but with that function comes responsibilities.
"I'm tired of corporations selling us short, trying to cram in as much sodium and high-fructose corn syrup as they can into our food supply."
Not as succinct as "government trying to tell me what to eat." Then again, the truth isn't as "marketable" as political rhetoric.
(Editor's note: One year from today, we will either have a new president or Barack Obama will be sworn in for his second term.)