Friday, January 23, 2009


Here Come the Food Police

January 22nd, 2009 by Tom Purcell

They could arrive in America any time now: food police.
I refer to an interesting item in the U.K. Telegraph. The British government is sending contractors door to door to teach its citizens how to manage leftovers.
British bureaucrats, you see, worry that Brits are wasting too much food — one third of store-bought grub, they say, is tossed out. That is bad for the environment.
That is bad because produce must be grown and harvested. Cows and pigs must be fed and butchered. Fossil fuels must be burned to process, refrigerate and ship the food. Fossil fuels emit carbon. Carbon, it is argued, is causing the Earth to melt.
The more leftovers that go to waste, then, the more carbon we pump into the air.
Brit bureaucrats will have none of that. To prevent the wasting of leftovers, they launched the “Love Food Hate Waste” campaign.
Government contractors — “food champions” — are going door to door to teach helpless, inept citizens how to shop better, eat less and manage their leftovers. They offer useful tips at their Web site (
Take portion control. Brits are eating too much. Fortunately, the government provides a nifty calculator to tell you exactly how much you should eat. A fellow dining alone is limited to two florets of broccoli, I discovered — and all these years I’ve been eating 2 1/2.
They offer tips on how to save dough. They advise that vegetables, for instance, are cheaper when in season. Groundbreaking news for the government maybe, but my father, a master grocery shopper, figured it out in the ’60s when he pinched every penny to feed six kids.
In another section, top chefs provide recipes to encourage Brits to eat — not toss — their leftovers. They should have consulted my mother. Leftovers were all we ate when I was a kid. In fact, to borrow from humorist Calvin Trillin, we once sent a crew of archeologists into our kitchen to uncover the original meal.
The problem, we are led to believe, is that Brits are dumb. They aren’t able to read or understand “use by” dates and so they toss out food while it is still edible.
They don’t seem to know that freezing food keeps the food from spoiling so they can eat it later. Or that celery that is a little bruised still makes good stir fry.
Thank goodness the all-knowing government has come to their rescue. The way things are breaking in America, we may soon have government-funded food champions knocking on our doors, too.
If the government decides that humans are the cause of global warming — it’s “climate change” now — then isn’t it logical for the government to thwart humans from causing it? Aren’t leftover police logical?
If the government takes over all aspects of our nation’s health care system — and the Democrats are likely going to try — isn’t it also logical for health-care police to evolve?
If you smoke or eat a fatty diet — if your poor choices could cause you to become ill — the government will have to pick up the tab. Isn’t it logical, then, for the government to monitor and control your habits and your diet?
It may sound absurd, but absurdity and government go hand-in-hand. That is why the government that governs best is the one that governs least — something we better keep a bead on as our government expands rapidly in response to our economic woes.
Though perhaps we won’t have to worry about food police just yet. Our prescient government already launched a preemptive strike to eliminate leftover wastefulness.
First it flooded the economy with easy money. Then it ensured that any fool could get a mortgage. A massive housing bubble evolved, then burst, and now unemployment is soaring.
Show me an American who can afford to waste leftovers in this economy.

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