Friday, July 30, 2004

Pyramid Schemes
The Wall Street Journal yesterday covered the conflict over the USDA's impending adoption of a revised food recommendation chart. (They might even ditch the pyramid. Perhaps they hope to adopt a more eye-catching model shape, such as the Venus de Milo.)

Like any other government process, it is attracting hordes of lobbyists for the various food industries, all vying to proclaim their product as essential for good health. The Atkins people want a bigger chunk for protein; the Harvard people want more emphasis on whole grains. The white flour folks are suffering, as are the potato farmers. (I'll speak a word for potatoes, if no one else will. They're cheap, they taste good, and if you mash them with butter and milk and serve them with roast beef, as God intended, they won't spike your blood sugar. But no doubt the Potato Caucus will see their place is protected.)

So while the bureaucrats are hearing from the Low-Carb People, the High-Carb People, the Potato People, the Squash People, and the Styrofoam-With-Sugar-and-Artificial-Flavors people, one has to wonder: Just who thought the government could do a better job at this, anyway? Do we really think the final result will be some all-wise pronouncement from on high on the best nutritional actions? (If so, consider the critique of the Harvard People: "wishy-washy, scientifically unfounded advice" that contributes to "overweight, poor health and unnecessary early death.")

The truth is, the government doesn't know more about nutrition than any other particular guru. And why do we need tax dollars to pay for one more voice in the clamor?

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