No Big Macs for you! Come back in one year!

Courtesy of Will, Time reports that Los Angeles has enacted a one-year moratorium on new fast-food establishments in a low-income area of the city.

I sympathize with those who seek any sort of remedy to soaring obesity rates, particularly amongst the urban poor; how-ever, such nanny-state tactics, meant to save people from themselves, send a chill down my spine. On the other hand,

Councilwoman Jan Perry says residents at five public meetings expressed concern with the proliferation of fast-food outlets in the community plagued by above-average rates of obesity.

Striking the balance between appropriate governmental restraint and legitimate action some-times requires delicacy; that (some segment of) the residents of the area support(s) the moratorium makes it comparatively more palatable, although the residents whom Councilwoman Perry adduces may constitute a vocal minority, rather than an accurate representation of the populace. (Moreover, I think I have, before, suggested that I question the merits of relying too heavily on the wishes of the people, particularly at the local level, where, for whatever reason(s), I tend more authoritarian than I do at higher levels of government.)

Beyond the nanny-state health-policy question, I support this moratorium for reasons best described by dcporter, commenting on Will’s original post:

Having spent a lot of time in a town that bans fast food restaurants (meaning McDonalds and the like – they’ve still got places that make your food quickly), I have to say that I like it. And it’s always nice when local government stands up to oppose international capital accumulation.

Any-one who knows me well enough knows that I positively disdain chains (and, even, franchises), avoiding fast food almost always, steering clear of national sit-down restaurants almost as constantly, and buying local when-ever possible. (I even own a share in the Greenbelt Co-op grocery store!) For voluminous reasons, I support measures, which I should passionately oppose when directed toward other ends, that preclude formula restaurants and chain stores from establishing them-selves in communities; additional to cultural and economic grounds, I oppose chains on pretexts political, aesthetic, and land-use-related. Kudos to Los Angeles: Let’s see other municipalities, maybe states, too, enact such legislation, or, at the very least, enact ordinances and statutes, reasonable in nature, that favor local establishments over corporate entities.

Update: Finally, after three in the morning, I made it beyond the front section and Scrabblegram of Wednesday’s Post and noticed an article, head-lining the Business section, written apropos of Time‘s report.

One in three children in this country are overweight. But, until now, it was unclear how much the nation’s largest food and beverage companies spent influencing kids to eat unhealthy foods.

The companies spent about $1.6 billion marketing their products — mainly soda, fast food and cereal — to children in 2006, according to a Federal Trade Commission report on food marketing to children released yesterday.

One-point-six billion dollars spent on marketing junk food to kids, four hundred and ninety-two million dedicated to carbonated-beverage advertising, compared to a paltry sixty-seven million spent on the “Got Milk?” ad’s. (Yes, I intended to use an apostrophe there: “ad’s” is a contraction of “advertisements”; I have strange writing habits, I know.) All the more reason for the right to embrace culinary conservatism. Unless we aspire to portly populism, reactionary rotundity, or tubby traditionalism, that is.


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