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Healthier Eating

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There’s been this debate in our county about “nutritional standards” and now we seem to be legislating it. I suppose in my world, healthier eating means removing as much artificially flavored, overly processed foods from my diet. To others, it may mean gluten free, or vegan, or paleo, or any combination that fits a person’s wants, needs and possible allergies.

I thought we lived in a highly educated, motivated, discerning, well informed corner of the universe. I seem to be somewhat naïve since now we need the government to choose what is “healthy” for us.

I read the county council passed bill, with its exceptions, convoluted language, and even its confusing parts that make me shake my head. Low fat milk is full of sugar. Diet sodas have lots of sodium. Which wins? I thought healthy now included fats? According to this bill, it doesn’t. And that 25 cent thing? Really? OK, I’m a vendor. I put a four ounce healthy snack in my machine for 25 cents less than an eight ounce “unhealthy” snack. Which would you buy?

Why don’t we just ban vending machines if we are worried people won’t make the right choices? While we are at it, can we get rid of those annoying Girl Scout and Cub Scout fundraisers that push sugar laden foods on us as we try to get to the library? And, why aren’t the schools included in this “purge” of unhealthy choices?

Make it simple. Stop selling packaged stuff. Period. Whether it’s the sugar, or the fat, or the artificial flavorings and colorings. They are all bad for us in excess.

The people who live here do a pretty good job of thinking for themselves.

For example. Our annual Field Day. Where we once went through cases of soda.

field day 2015 049

Now, we ended up turning back most of the sodas. We go through large amounts of water, and not quite as much Gatorade. In the extreme heat, the crews drink more Gatorade to rehydrate, but even that is changing. They didn’t need bans or legislation to change their habits.

field day 2015 046

Heck, this year, they ate almost all my tzatziki and veggies, and all my salad I brought. Seven years ago, they wouldn’t have made a dent in it. The first pizza to be finished. The veggie one.

Seriously, people. Give our fellow residents some credit. We are one of the healthiest counties in our state. We don’t need all this legislation to tell us what to eat. If we don’t want processed food in county buildings, ban the vending machines.

About AnnieRie

Retired, I am following my dream of living in quiet west Howard County, a rural oasis, not far from the urban chaos, but just far enough. I love to cook, bake, garden, and travel. I volunteer at Howard County Conservancy. I lead nature hikes, manage programs and show children all the wonders of nature, and the agricultural connection to their food.

3 responses »

  1. Now if they banned GMOs, they might start making some sense 😉

  2. A few clarifications: 1. The final bill did not include the pricing provision. 2. There are sodium limits in the standards. 3. The school system nutritional standards are set in its own wellness policy, which was adopted a year ago. Those standards align with the county’s.

    More broadly, however, you’re right that Howard Countians are increasingly making healthier decisions. Indeed, sugary drink sales are declining here at a rate that is nearly three times the national average:

    Contrary to talking points from the food and beverage industry, this bill does nothing to dictate what people can and cannot eat or drink anywhere. Rather, it dictates what county government will allow private vendors to sell on public property (restrictions on the sale of certain items on public property are nothing new).

    Given the healthier decisions increasingly being made by residents, these standards will have the affect of more closely aligning the food and drink offered for sale with the tastes and desires of residents. A vendor made a point at the public hearing for this bill that three of the top four beverages sold in county vending machines count as healthy (under the standards in this bill). Then why are the majority of items included in our vending machines still unhealthy?

    For an industry that claims to give the people what they want, their words don’t match their actions.

    And for a county with residents as committed to their health as ours, why would government not choose to offer for sale food and beverages that meet our minimum collective standards for health?

  3. I couldn’t agree more, Annie.


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