Food Freedom an Increasingly Precarious Right


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Discussing the food Nazis, Walter Williams once said, 'Allowing government to be in the business of caring for people for any reason moves us farther down the road to serfdom . . . . If government is going to take care of us, it will assume it has a right to dictate how we live . . . . Numerous health studies have shown that sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise also contribute to healthcare costs.' Furthermore, Williams said that he 'wouldn't be surprised at all if America 's neo-Nazis call for government mandates requiring morning exercise, biking, jogging and fitness facility memberships.' Dr. Williams said that in 2002. The sound of food-fascist jackboots thumping on the pavement has only gotten louder and closer since he spoke those words.

In the movie Demolition Man, a cop named John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone), wrongfully convicted of a heinous crime, is awakened from cryogenic suspension more than 30 years after he was frozen in order to catch his nemesis from the late 1990s, Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), who has escaped from cryo prison after being frozen at the same time as Spartan. Among the many changes in the future, all foods or anything deemed to make life unhealthy, has been unilaterally declared by a benevolent, all-knowing government, masterminded by an evil Mr. Rogers-like elitist, Dr. Raymond Cocteau (Nigel Hawthorne), to be illegal.

No salt, no spices, no ice cream, no fatty foods, no large portions, no tobacco, no physical contact of any sort. Cocteau is credited with single-handedly saving civilization as it existed in Southern California in the dark years of the late-20th and early-21st centuries. The masses worship him like a savior and a god and cannot imagine what would happen to them if he ever was to die. The tranquility and peace their society enjoys blinds them to the obvious fact that they are slaves to Cocteau's will.

Spartan sees right through the veneer of slavery, fascism, serfdom, or whatever you might want to call the 'paradise' that Cocteau has created. Through decades of indoctrination and propaganda, he has engineered a society that willingly cedes its individuality, choices, intellectual curiosity, and as Phoenix argues at one point with Cocteau, the all-important 'right to be assholes.'

When Demolition Man was made (1993), it was an entertaining satire and full of hyperbole on where all the whining and complaining by the ninny-nannies opposed to every possible dietary or lifestyle 'vice' might take us in the future. Much of what the movie lampooned as future illegal behavior, has come closer to reality with each passing year. Many variations of food Nazis have goose-stepped their message into the public eye over the past decade, warning us about the many dangers of Mexican food, Chinese food, ice cream, salt, fast food, potato chips, pizza, red meat, chicken, pork, and basically anything that most people find tasty and enjoyable.

What many people fail to realize is that the food we choose to eat, and the vast number of food choices we have, is one the few remaining freedoms we have left. The FDA puts up roadblocks, like any other government agency, in order to justify its existence and bloated budgets, but for the most part we have vast freedom with what and how much we eat. If we can afford to buy it and consume it, we can choose to be gluttons. Now, the state and its minions are strongly hinting all that should change because of the high healthcare costs associated with obesity, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle. Surprise, surprise.

The food Nazis want consumers of food and food services and those who provide the goods and services desired, to change their ways or the fascists are going to take charge of the situation and create their own nightmare version of Cocteau's world of dietary and lifestyle perfection. They claim to be interested in benevolence, you know, 'for the children' and the general health of all. What they really want is that final bit of control of our personal lives that continues to elude them. Controlling what we eat will give them enormous leverage in wresting away our remaining freedoms. The food Nazis will find compatibility of purpose with other situational Nazis interested in completely controlling our lives. Remember what Trotsky said: 'He who does not obey shall not eat.'

It will not matter if you are buying food to prepare at home or eating out at your favorite restaurant. The old menus you loved and the old servings that kept you coming back will no longer exist. Restaurants and subjects (formerly citizens) not complying will be identified as criminals. Their families, friends, and communities will be indoctrinated to see them as pariahs. They will be relegated to the lowest caste of society. To pay the economic burden they have imposed on others because of their unacceptable and illegal dietary choices, they will be made to work on large, environmentally-friendly farms that grow healthy foods for those committed to a better and more healthy world.

CNN reports the FDA is right now 'enlisting' the restaurant industry to help fight obesity by voluntarily downsizing portions served to patrons. Supermarkets and convenience stores will be next. And your favorite, late-night fast food joints? Forget about it. If they are not forced out of business outright, they will fold in the early years of the brave new world being created by the food Nazis.

Walter Williams points out that the crusade against tobacco, much like the current one being waged against 'unhealthy' foods, started in virtually unnoticeable, seemingly innocent, and incremental ways. John Spartan, fed up with the comically fascist world of dietary prohibitions he had been thawed out to safeguard from the rampages of Simon Phoenix, requested in frustration, 'somebody put me back in the fridge.' If the food Nazis get their way some years hence, your fridge will only hold enough of the right food to meet your centrally-planned caloric and dietary intake, formulated to maximize what others think is necessary to live a healthy life and minimize future health care costs for the state. Better stuff your face while that freedom still exists.

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Columns on STR: 40

Harry Goslin lives in eastern Arizona.