The Soda Ban, Farm Subsidies and your Ass. A Big Fat Satire
Eighty percent of children my daughter's age are more obese than she is. Still, a little obesity is still too much. While the rest of her diet consists of fast fried foods, candy, ice cream and whatever else she feels like eating, I’m pretty sure it’s the soda leading to her health problems. It definitely can’t have anything to do with the hot dog eating contest we host and judge every Fourth of July. So my spouse and I chose the only available option: we’ve limited her to 16 ounces of soda. At a time. Being the progressive, fashionable family on our block, I’m sure that most of the other families will emulate us very soon. Farewell Obesity!
Sitting at the New York City Department of Health (DOH) public hearing, I can’t help but think of my household. Like my daughter, New York is a little obese. While 80 percent of the states in the USA have higher obesity rates than New York, almost a quarter of New Yorkers qualify as obese. And as I said, even a little obesity is still too much. So, like my household, New York City plans on banning all sugary drinks over 16 ounces that contain more than 25 calories. And like my neighbors, I’m sure all the other progressive metropolitans across the country will follow suit.
They did with the NYC smoking ban. And to a lesser extent, the trans-fat ban. Also, like me, Mayor Bloomberg presides over his own hot dog eating contest. But neither of us are obese, and neither are some of the contestants, so don’t worry about trying to point out some imagined hypocrisy on our part. Remember, it’s just the sodas that cause the obesity. So please, try and fit that fortieth hotdog in your distended belly. You’ll be fine. Just don’t wash the dogs down with anything more than a 16 ounce soda.
But perhaps you wonder why I don’t just rearrange the drinks on my shelf. Or put the soda in containers that are harder to open. Or move the other beverages into easier containers. Well, first off, its just more convenient to forbid her from drinking the soda than for me to educate her about its ill effects. It means less work for me. More importantly, the soda rests temptingly on the lower shelf for financial reasons. The more penny soda she drinks, the less three-dollar milk and juice she’ll chug. And while I want her to be healthy, and kick her childhood obesity to the curb, I also have to look out for the bottom line. Calories per dollar, you can’t beat the expedient price of that soda. This is a recession we’re in! The bottom line rules the roost. Although…not completely, because, to be honest, I’ve been handing a substantial amount of the family’s money to my neighbors. Well not all of my neighbors. But a few of them. Specifically, the ones that grow corn in their back yard.
Years ago, they were really hard up for money, so I financed some of their crops. Not as an investment I hoped to get paid back on, but just because I didn’t want to go without corn. Still don’t. And while they now bathe in cash, selling their corn to all kinds of people to put it in nearly everything, I’ve continued to float them the funds, because, well, that’s the way I’ve always done it. And if I stopped now, they would stop slipping me the little walk-around money I’ve grown accustomed to. You see, my spouse and child scrutinize our family income really closely, and the only way I can spend a little on myself is if I have unaccounted pocket cash. And that’s where the neighbor’s kickback comes in.
My wife and child don’t question the money going to the neighbors. Like I said, that’s the way we’ve always done it. So I’m willing to give them thousands of dollars right in front of my family’s face, as long as they slip me a twenty here or there. (If this seems stupid, far-fetched or unbelievable, please look no further than the relationship Congress and corn-producing food conglomerates, in this particular case enormous Archer Daniels Midland. According to a Cato Institute study, the government spent more than $70 billion subsidizing corn production between the years 1995 and 2009. As a result, “Every $1 of profits earned by [ADM’s] corn-sweetener operation costs consumers $10.”)
They keep using that money to sell their corn dirt cheap and substitute it for everything from table sugar to dog food, and I keep getting my seemingly random twenty dollar bills.
Which brings up back to the sodas. Those things are full of my neighbor’s corn, and that’s why they I can get them so cheap. They used to be made of sugar, which, while unhealthy, wasn’t nearly the catalyst for obesity that the corn syrup is. But my corn-growing neighbors have convinced the local grocery store to add money to the price of the table sugar. I asked them why once, and they said it was to protect my other neighbors who grow sugarcane. I asked those neighbors if the added price to the imported sugar helped their crops. They shook their heads no and then quickly disappeared back into their homes. Come to think of it, I haven’t really seen them around since. But with the corn substitute loaded into the sodas, it makes them really unhealthy for my family. Such a conundrum!
While I guess it would make much more sense to stop giving my neighbors all that money, and instead use it on milk and juice, that might cause some unwanted confrontations with those big, mean, adult, corn-farming neighbors. Its so much easier just to limit the amount of soda my child drinks. Well, not actively limit it (that would be entirely too much work), but just forbid serving sizes over 16 ounces. Hopefully she won’t take more than one, or refill the one she has once she finishes it. Either way, as a concerned parent looking out solely for the well being of my daughter—and not at all concerned with my own walk-around money—I’ve done my part. I’ve restricted her freedoms without costing me anything and without pissing of the neighbors. Farewell childhood obesity, indeed!
Brendyn Sweet is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist. Disclaimer: His daughter actually drinks organic whole milk and water and doesn't eat fried food, fast food, ice cream or candy.