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November 4, 2010

San Francisco food nannies know what’s best for the city’s remaining children

San Francisco has long been the gathering place for people who aren’t interested in having children.  Thus, it was with some surprise that I read this week about an action taken by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to manage the restaurant food choices of families with young children.
Los Angeles Times, November 2:
San Francisco's board of supervisors has voted, by a veto-proof margin, to ban most of McDonald's Happy Meals as they are now served in the restaurants.
The measure will make San Francisco the first major city in the country to forbid restaurants from offering a free toy with meals that contain more than set levels of calories, sugar and fat.
The ordinance would also require restaurants to provide fruits and vegetables with all meals for children that come with toys.
Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the measure, described it in magnificently Orwellian fashion:
“We're part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice.”
Well, if this is all about “food justice”, we can’t let ourselves be sidetracked by petty issues like the right of parents to make  informed choices about their children’s diet.
Given that SF officials don’t appear to have much experience raising real-life kids, allow me to clue them in: The availability of toys in a kids meal affects the choice of restaurant much more than it affects the choice of food.
The Center for Consumer Freedom adds that this is more about the parents’ choices than it is about the kids’ choices:
But there’s nothing wrong with the occasional fast food dinner. And that much has always been up to parental discretion: It’s not very often you see a child hop in the car, drive to McDonald’s, and charge a Happy Meal to his own credit card. Yet San Francisco seems to think parents are no match for the “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle.
The supervisors seem well aware of the ridicule their nannying efforts are provoking around the country.  Nevertheless, they hope their action will end up starting a cascade that ends up undermining parental rights everywhere.  From the L.A. Times article linked above:
Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose swing vote provided the veto-proof majority, said critics should not dismiss the legislation as a nutty effort by San Franciscans. "I do believe the industry is going to take note of this. I don't care how much they say, 'It's San Francisco, they're wacked out there.' "
It’s San Francisco—they’re wacked out there.  We’re not buying into their nutty efforts.

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