Obesity blamed on farmers and 'Big Food'

A combination of collective social policy, bad economics, and portrayal of man as a powerless victim of his environment appear in an article in today's NY Times Magazine by Michael Pollan on the subject of the coming 'obesity epidemic'. Perhaps the most detestable passage from the article follows.

As public concern over obesity mounts, the focus of political pressure has settled on the food industry and its marketing strategies -- supersizing portions, selling junk food to children, lacing products with transfats and sugars. Certainly Big Food bears some measure of responsibility for our national eating disorder -- a reality that a growing number of food companies have publicly accepted. In recent months, Kraft, McDonald's and Coca-Cola have vowed to change marketing strategies and even recipes in an effort to help combat obesity and, no doubt, ward off the coming tide of litigation.

There is an understandable reluctance to let Big Food off the hook. Yet by devising ever more ingenious ways to induce us to consume the surplus calories our farmers are producing, the food industry is only playing by a set of rules written by our government. (And maintained, it is true, with the industry's political muscle.)

[emphasis mine]

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Your first clue should have

Your first clue should have been that Mr. Pollan is a professor at Berkeley.

Although it was interesting how he compared the current "Obesity Epidemic" with the "The Alcoholic Republic" in the 1820's, I found it more interesting that he came off as saying that big government is both the problem and the solution.

Another example of the lack

Another example of the lack of personal responsibility that is increasing in society. Blame it on others (food industry, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, etc) and you will go on living your life without any repercussions for your actions.

Barney

Although it was interesting

Although it was interesting how he compared the current "Obesity Epidemic" with the "The Alcoholic Republic" in the 1820's, I found it more interesting that he came off as saying that big government is both the problem and the solution.

And there you have two major weakness of the article. Alcohol is available, plentiful, and cheap in the US, and while alchoholism is a problem for more than a few people, the Republic survived the so-called 'overproduction' of alcohol.

He sees government both as the problem and the solution because in his meta-context, all order comes from above. If there is a perceived wrong with society, it must come from top-down policies, and thus the solution must also come from top-down policies. He is the ideal technocrat. Yet, he does not know his own limitations as a grand-designer and falls prey to the 'fatal conceit'.

He complains about subsidies to farmers resulting in food being too abundant and too cheap. Ummm.... what does he think will happen if those subsidies are removed? Sometimes I just have to shake my head.

OBESITY IS NOT THE FARMERS

OBESITY IS NOT THE FARMERS PROBLEM!!!! MAYBE THEY SHOULDN'T EAT SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!