The latest political buzz revolves around governmental regulations of nutrition, particularly in the dairy industry and education system. Few people have not in some way experienced the self serving promotion of Sarah Palin as she presented grade schoolers mountains of cookies in profitable protest of the Obama campaign to reduce the amount of highly processed sugars used in schools. One can hardly ignore the obvious cliche that this is a governmental attempt to "take candy from the babies."
Although I highly applaud the efforts of Michelle Obama and other political groups promoting a change in national nutrition to promote wellness, I am afraid that their urgings are falling on deaf ears at best and at worst could backfire completely. No one wants to be told what to eat and how to eat it. Even the mailable minds of our youth will balk at a direct order to eat less junk food, especially when it is represented as law or regulations. It is in our nature as free Americans to want to make up our own minds; to do what we want to do, because we can.
No, I fear that regulating nutrition will have a similar effect as regulating illegal drugs; making it more desirable to those who are attempting to rebel and go against the grain of society. In an extreme case, nutritional regulations could cause a national rise in junk food consumption, just because it is seen as against the rules.
The only way we can truly create a movement of change in the way we eat as a nation is to lead by example. The more people who engage in healthful habits nationwide, the more people will begin to see this as the socially acceptable and "cool" thing to do. It is not surprising to me, (although there is little difference on the surface between the social acceptance of something that is right and something that is cool) that focusing on the negative leads to negative results, whereas a positive focus will procure the desired outcome. We need to focus on changing minds, not changing government policy.
Don't get me wrong, I do believe that there is a place for government in nutrition. It is simply a very delicate topic that needs to be handled with extreme regard to psychology and sociology. We need to promote healthy living in ways that Americans can easily implement without changing their entire comfort zone.
Unfortunately at this time, most of my political focus has been on preventing the ban of raw milk and cheese production. Local farmers who create healthful and delicious dairy products using traditional methods are in danger of being shut down all over the nation. There are already surprisingly few states that allow the sale of raw dairy for any purpose, and with the national government attempting to sidle in on state nutritional regulations, there is even more danger for these small farms and the farmers who have been making a living taking excellent care of their animals and loyal customers for years.
The FDA's attempt to take the power of regulating dairy production from the states is one example of why the government should not be legislating nutrition. American consumers have the right to consciously choose a healthful alternative to highly processed and nutritionally ruined pasteurized dairy products. We have a right to choose to go back to our roots and eat our food the way nature has intended and our ancestors have done for countless generations before.
We also have an obligation to our friends and neighbors to promote healthful living by being a leader in wellness in our homes, our schools and our communities. We cannot hope to create change without first changing our own minds, our own habits. Only when we are living in a way that makes us proud will we inspire others to do the same.
It does not take a presidential figure or celebrity to promote a cause. The big changes are happening in our own backyards, being led by our friends, family and neighbors. Help them deliver a message of positive change.