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Kentucky state education officials are proposing that the sale of most soft drinks and junk foods be banned during class hours in the state’s public schools.

According to a report in the Courier-Journal, “the new rules are part of education officials' attempt to implement the state legislature's newly passed school nutrition bill. The state Board of Education could vote as soon as August, but the regulations likely wouldn't begin until midway through the coming school year.”
KC's View:
As in every case when we report stories like this one, we suspect that it will generate responses from both sides of the issue. Some will argue that the “food police” are once again going overboard, while others will suggest that such moves are important to helping our youth achieve greater health. And neither side seems to have much patience for the other.

The New York Times ran an interesting profile yesterday of Rick Berman, the Washington lobbyist who runs the Center for Consumer Freedom, the nonprofit advocacy group that is financed by the food and restaurant industries. “In recent years,” the NYT reports, “Mr. Berman, who is not a scientist, has emerged as a powerful and controversial voice in the debate over the nation's eating habits. In some ways, he has become the face of the food industry as it tries to beat back regulations and discourage consumer lawsuits. Food and restaurant companies, he says, are being unfairly blamed for making Americans fat and unhealthy; he adds that people are smart enough to make their own well-informed choices.”

In many ways, the article illustrated vividly the problem with the debate. Too many people see the issue in terms of black and white, when, like most arguments, it is mostly gray.

Those who would suggest that the “food police are going overboard” miss the possibility that some (not all) of these folks are more interested in education and enlightenment than restrictions and rules. Of course, life is rarely that simple. And many of those who support greater education don’t understand that dedication to capitalism isn’t a negative – that freedom of choice isn’t just an abstract concept to be forgotten when inconvenient.

There ought to be room for some sort of understanding here.