A recent television documentary about the 1920’s Prohibition era ( www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/) got me thinking about many of the food issues we face today in America.
Back then, the country outlawed the manufacture and sale of all alcohol as a way to address what was considered a grave public health concern: alcoholism. The backers of Prohibition determined that moderate alcohol consumption was impossible, so they convinced Congress and state legislatures to simply ban the stuff and take away all choice.
Today the country is working to address another public health concern: obesity in adults and children. It’s a serious and complex issue that stems from a lot of different factors that go way beyond simply eating too much and not exercising enough.
But many food activists think they have the silver bullet to solve obesity: limiting food choice. They believe normal Americans are not capable of moderation in food consumption, so it’s better for the government to simply take so-called “bad” foods from consumers through heavy taxes or outright bans.
You’ll hear a lot about this during events surrounding the first annual Food Day event on Oct. 24. The event, patterned on Earth Day, is pushing the food activists’ agenda, which includes pushing federal, state and local governments to enact taxes or bans on everything from meat, to soda, to fast food.
Sound familiar? Prohibition, of course, was a failure and was repealed not long after it was enacted. Law-abiding citizens, who simply wanted the freedom to choose to consume alcohol in moderation, won the day.
I’m not advocating for alcohol, but there’s something to be said for maintaining our basic freedoms. In fact, Americans have significantly reduced their consumption of alcohol since the repeal of Prohibition. Certainly alcohol is an issue for some, but not like it was before Prohibition.
Could that be a pattern for today’s obesity issue? Instead of taking away food choice, isn’t it simply better to let consumers themselves choose the healthy diet that works best for them? Once again, moderation can win the day.
For more information on food choice visit
Written by Dirck Steimel
Dirck is the news services manager for Iowa Farm Bureau.
Prohibition: Didn’t work with alcohol and won’t with food
10/24/2011 10:50:00 AM