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Mark Bittman’s Soda Tax

Is soda the new tobacco?  That is what I was wondering after I read Mark Bittman’s op-ed piece (Bad Food? Tax It) in yesterday’s New York Times.  In his article (which I tweeted several times) Bittman suggested taxing soda and subsidizing vegetables. Not such a bad idea, right?

Wait a minute.  There will be loads of people who vehemently object to Bittman’s proposed soda tax.  Why?  They will claim that we are creating a nanny state.  They will argue that the process of determining which foods are healthy and which are not is too complicated and subjective.  Bittman however, has sound comebacks for each argument that the critics throw his way.

Bittman’s points are compelling, here are just a couple:

  • because of subsidies to industrial agriculture fruit is more expensive than Froot Loops
  • one-third of Americans either have diabetes or are pre-diabetic
  • a sane diet could save billions of dollars in health care costs

Bittman has plenty of solutions for the spiraling healthcare costs associated with the Standard American Diet (SAD).  He talks about spending revenues from a soda tax on local gyms and to pollinate food deserts.  He also notes that for the first time in our history, “lifestyle” (preventable) diseases, will kill more people than communicable ones.”

Finally, Bittman drives his point home when discussing the historic ramifications of the implementation of the tobacco tax, noting that since its institution just over three decades ago, smoking has declined by more than half.

What are your thoughts on the soda tax?  Leave a comment and let’s discuss this controversial issue.


posted on July 25, 2011

  1. Amy

    Absolutely NOT. The government can’t get its own financial house in order – it needs to stop meddling in private enterprise and imposing “sin taxes” for industries it deems inappropriate.

    This is particularly egregious because the government has ALREADY helped diabetes to spread by giving extensive subsidies to corn growers (i.e. HFCS).

    Don’t they have enough problems to worry about?

    • Mardi

      well stated, Amy, I agree completely

    • Karen

      Amen, Amy. These folks can’t even settle how to keep from sending this country into default but they think they can tell us what to eat? What a joke. Hello, 1984 calling…

      Not only that but then do they want to tax ALL sodas, including Zevia, Blue Sky Zero, Virgil’s Zero, which use natural no-calorie sweeteners and natural ingredients? As if those don’t already cost a bundle – no way, leave one of the few indulgences I have left alone!

      • Good Point, how could they differentiate between “good sodas” and bad ones.

        And really how efficient is the government at handling money anyway? How much would make it to a park local to me, none I would bet. More taxes and no benefit.

      • Jay

        @ Karen, there is no such thing as a “good” soda pop. Stevia, blue agave, whatever, it’s still soda pop.

        • sophie

          if it is sweetened with stevia and has no chemicals – it is not unhealthy…

          • Jay

            You might want to do some research on your stevia. I wouldn’t touch it nor would I let my family touch it. Water by the way, is a lot better for children than artifically sweetened soda pops.

            • sophie

              Yes, thank you, I have read about stevia. AND I have found it to be quite harmless. THANK YOU.

            • Ashlee Crozier

              I think you mean Splenda; which is in artificial sweetener. From what I have studied and read, Stevia is from a natural plant and is considered an herbal supplement in some cases. Zevia is one of the “sodas” sweetened with Stevia (which is NOT an artificial sweetener). So in Zevia there are NO artificial sweeteners. Splenda, is of course, harmful, and I wouldnt touch it with a ten-foot pole, either.

              • Jay

                @Ashlee Crozier

                When Stevia is no longer in its natural state, as in the plant itself, & mass produced as a so called “natural” sweetener, its just another form of artificial sweetener as far as I’m concerned, and I’d never buy the stuff.

                As for Zevia sodas. Zevia sodas contain erythritol as well as stevia for sweetening, as stevia cannot do the job alone. Stevia also has the potential of tasting bitter at times, so another excuse for adding extra sweetener.

                With Zevia sodas, you have double the sweetener in whatever flavor you buy because of the erythritol. Erythritol by the way, can cause a laxitive effect if too much of it is consumed at one time.

                Mountain Zevia has caffine added and is actually higher in caffine than Zevia cola. Why, is anyones guess.

                Zevia cola, Zevia caffine free cola, and Zevia cream soda all have caramel color added as well as erythritol.

                Zevia Cola itself, has caffine, caramel color, and fumaric acid added. Furaric acid is one of the ingredient in acne medications, psoriasis medications and is also added to animal feed.

                This is a couple of paragraphs from a 2003 European Commission Health & Consumer Protection study on Fumaric acid.

                FLIEGNER AND SPIEGEL (1992) reported a case of fully reversible
                tubular toxicity with consecutive metabolic osteopathy following
                systemic fumaric acid therapy. This secondary effect of oral fumaric
                acid therapy obviously occurs very rarely, never having been
                described before. A 46-year-old female patient with a long history of
                recurrent palmoplantar psoriasis underwent oral treatment with
                fumaric acid and its esters. Two months later, the patient started to
                experience arthralgia, back pain in the early hours of the morning and
                myalgia with increasing frequency, progressing to disablement in
                moving and walking and, finally, to total immobility. Not until 9
                months later was the reason for these severe disabilities found: they
                stemmed from hypophosphataemic osteomalacia as a result of a
                complex disturbance of the renal tubular system. The clinical
                symptoms and the results of laboratory chemistry tests returned to
                normal as soon as fumaric acid medication was discontinued. Two
                attempts at reexposure confirmed the causal relationship. The authors
                recommend that oral fumaric acid medication should never be
                administered without clinical and chemical controls.

                RASCHKA AND KOCH reported in 1999 a case of a 38 year old woman
                who was treated with fumaric acid for 5 years before she complained
                of fatigue and weakness. According to clinical laboratory she had
                developed severe proximal tubular damage. Hypophosphataemia,
                glycosuria and proteinuria persisted although medication was stopped
                immediately.

                BOESKEN ET AL. (1998) focused their studies on potential adverse
                renal effects. 42/47 patients were observed between 3 and 70 months
                (mean: 16.5 months) without showing inreased kidney retention
                values, but 21/42 patients showed alterations in urin proteins. These
                alterations were transient and persisted only in 2 patients for more
                than 6 months. The authors conclude from their studies, that the
                adverse effects of fumaric acid esters are limited to transient
                alterations of the tubulus function without measurable restriction of
                the glomerular filration rate. But in case of additional tubulus
                poisoning (e.g. by exsiccosis, infections, treatment with drugs) an
                acute renal failure could result.

                My thoughts. Why do so many parents feel they cannot refuse to give their children soda pop as a thirst quencher, or in many cases a normal household drink. Regular soda pop or “natural” soda pop, they both have additives, with one being worse than the other.

                Proper nutrition as has been always said, begins at home. If soda pop is never on that nutrition list, the children will not miss it. I have two children now in thier 40′s. I could count the amount of times they had soda pop throughout their childhood on one hand. It can be done..

                • Catie

                  we are a no soda family as well….no soda, no diet soda…no natural soda….and don’t get me started on carbonation…..thanks Jay, Elana, and all of you for a very passionate discussion – I continue to learn from all of you!

                • Ashlee Crozier

                  I totally agree on skipping soda. Since the age of 16 I have decided against it. I am now 27 and have only had soda when I am so sick I cant consume or keep down anything else (pregnancy morning sickness). I dont buy pop, and honestly the one time I tried Zevia it gave me a stomachache and I didnt even like the taste. I didnt realize that some people dont like Stevia, or consider it an artificial sweetener.

            • Kiersti

              You are so right on!

          • Dr DNA

            This tendency to rail against “chemicals” merely demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of science. Let me offer a little remedial chemistry here: Water is a chemical. Oxygen is a chemical. Organically grown, lovingly picked stevia is made of chemicals.

            If you want your arguments about natural vs. unnatural food to be taken seriously you would do well to stop using the position “chemicals are bad”.

    • Patty

      I agree with Amy, I don’t want the government any more involved in food issues than they already are (which I think is too much!).

    • J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog) @ j3nn.net

      I agree with you, Amy! How about NO subsidies? The free market will work it out. The same government that creates these problems always wants to put band aids on gaping wounds. People can make their own decisions. We need to end corporate welfare altogether and then people will have a more honest choice at the grocery store.

      • Tracy

        Yay! I love that there are people in this world who still have faith in people. Some times I worry. Let the free market do what it does. Let us change the world with our dollars. The changes are already happening get the government out of it. They do nothing with out a corrupt agenda.

      • Jess

        AMEN! My thoughts exactly!

      • DJDeeJay

        Sure, and any politician who suggests that is the accused of being “anti-farmer” and thusly “anti-American.” I can see certain cable stations having a field day with that one.

        I don’t even mean to disagree with your overall point. I think both sides have some interesting points. As much as I’d love to see corn and soy subsidies reduced or eliminated, I think it would be tough to sell that idea in this political climate.

    • AnnMarie Deis

      I wholeheartedly agree! I think government is big enough; I don’t want them poking through my home, too! Besides, I don’t trust the government to do what they say they will with the money they would be getting. I feel it would be like a blank check. No, thank you!!!

    • I agree!! And what would be next? Agave Nectar? Honey? Pure Maple Syrup? Once you open the door anything is fair game.

    • Seana

      Thank you for your voice of reason, Amy.

      Taxing soda isn’t the federal governments job! They never do anything well anyway. Look at the Postal sytem which runs in the red more often than not. How about Social Security? Name one thing the government does well. There aren’t many things they do well, if any. It’s the consumer that needs to vote with their wallet to make changes in what’s available out there. The government has their fingers in enough things.

    • Bittman’s article and Elana’s post accept the assumption that government inevitably shapes food policy through subsidies, taxes, and legislation. Who is generally behind this policy (including many laws restricting local produce and dairy products): industrial agriculture lobbies.

      In a perfect world where you could take politics and lobbyist money/ influence away, and let an unadulterated “market” system work perhaps government should not tax soda or bad foods? However, we won’t be living in this theoretical world anytime soon.

      So once again you arrive at classic tea party logic. Existing policy framework that subsidizes and provides policy amenable to the wealthy and powerful corporations is inevitable and accepted. When discussing attempts to extend such helpful framework beyond corporate welfare we must return to a purely theoretical world where such actions are socialistic and the dictates of a”nanny state.”

      Shaping school lunch policy to the profits of industrial agriculture, inevitable. Subsidies that make it easier for disadvantaged children to get fresh produce: tyranny! Your tax dollars subsidizing pesticide and chemical laden ConAgra, yawn. Taxing soda to subsidize fresh produce from your local farmer: outrageous!

  2. Janis

    Wow, very interesting concept. Taxing soda and using the money to subsidize vegestable farmers sounds like a smart idea. While it would help everyone out, it could help out lower income families the most. Rather than buying cheap processed foods, maybe they would buy more healthy veggies, thereby improving their health.

    We subsidize agriculture for the less than healthy foods, maybe it is about time we do that for the healthy foods we should all be eating plenty of.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  3. I think that is a great idea. I don’t think that we should take away people’s choice to consume gross, unhealthy food/drinks. But, we do need to raise awareness and educate the masses about the harms of so many processed foods and beverages. Just like alcoholic drinks have a surgeon general’s warning, so should soda and other food/beverage made with HFCS and poisonous additives and GMO products. I still want to have the choice to enjoy a glass of wine, but I am perfectly fine paying an alcohol tax and heeding the warnings of consumption.

    • Yulia

      I love Deanna’s idea about labeling unhealthy foods!
      As for taxing soda: go for it! It’s such a bad substance, I would ban soda all together.

    • AnnMarie Deis

      Yes. Alcoholic beverages and cigarette boxes contain the surgeon general’s warning, but how many people does that stop??? I for one do not want ANY MORE of my tax dollars to be spent for the government to tell me how to eat and what is and what isn’t healthy! Didn’t the government “okay” HFCS? How many people here eat HFCS-containing products? Is it because you’re taxed or is it because you live in a free country and acting in your own free will?

      I think the government should stay OUT of anything that is food-related. Look at the current “sandbox” squabbling Democrats and Republicans are having now over the budget. This would only be another source of wasted “revenue” for our politicians and would most likely be spent much the same as social security was — squandered.

      • DJDeeJay

        AnnMarie, I’m curious, did you read the article? It very clearly states how the government got involved with reducing the smoking rates, and it worked. No, not by the warnings, but by raising the prices and taxes. The smoking rate has plummeted.

  4. Jerremie

    Brilliant idea. I’m all for it, and the sooner the better. Removing subsidies from unhealthy food crops and shifting them to vegetable and fruit growers is such a common sense idea… it probably has no hope of passing in congress.

  5. Elizabeth Richardson

    I agree wholeheartedly! Even my 16 year old granddaughter thinks it is a great idea! She says she can’t believe how many overwieght (aka FAT) students there are at her school. We have to do something constructive to change it and taxing soda is a practical step in the right direction.

    Directing the finds towards gyms would be a great idea – They have removed PE from the school now and do not require students to meet a certain level for graduation. Figure that out!

    Will be interested in what your other fans think!

    Elizabeth

  6. Melissa Smith

    It is time to tax soda – and not just the users. The makers of soda should be taxed at a high rate.

    • agnes goldberg gordon

      Finally someone with common sense,but the education about nutrition has to start at home. Taxing sodas is a great idea, Go for it!!!!!!

    • Anna

      That’s a distinction without a difference. Raise taxes on the producers, and they’ll charge more for their product. So even if the taxes are nominally on the producer, it’s really the consumer that is still paying.

  7. Amy Merideth

    Hi Elana

    In my practice I have seen a staggering rise in childhood and adolescent obesity which I attribute to the atrocious diet of many children. But it isn’t just soda, it’s Kool-aid, Gatorade, Little Debbie snacks, doritos and chips of all kind, french fries and donuts. While I am fine taxing all kinds of junk food, I wonder where we draw the line on what’s healthy and what’s junk? Recent studies have shown that potatoes of any kind contribute to weight gain. Do we tax them even though they are a fresh food? Do we tax Ben and Jerry’s but not Skinny Cow?

    We have a health care crisis and the availability of good tasting, cheap junk food is contributing to that, but I am not sure taxing is as easy as it sounds.

    Amy

    • jackie

      I agree with you. I believe taxing “junk food” is a move in the right direction, but as you stated, where do we draw the line. What is considered healthy or unhealthy changes as research continues. The dietetic field is ever changing. What I learned 10 years ago is not the same recommended diet now.

    • catie

      Big Yes to the Soda tax.
      Deciphering whether food is “junk food” or “good for you” food is neither difficult nor subjective. Food is a science. It’s measured in value and content. Whether or not it tastes good or if I like something or not has no bearing in whether or not a bowl of fruit loops is healthier than a bowl of plain oatmeal. We need a standard of value in our food and beverages. When and if fruit loops falls below that standard of value it should be taxed and so should its creators.

      • Nicole

        Food as science has been quite the saga–take margerine for example. Margerine replaced butter for decades as the healthier fat only to now be replaced with? BUTTER! Much of food science is psuedo-who-has-the-money-to-market-and-lobby science. Education is key. Giving gov’t license to choose what is healthy or not (raw milk, anyone? how about raw almonds?) is a recipe for disaster. (pun intended)

  8. Paula O’Brien

    Interesting idea. Would removing corn subsidies have a similar effect? That’s what most soda is sweetened with and perhaps the revenue raised by removing the subsidy could be invested in the same ventures. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Sabrina

      I think that removing the corn subsidy would automatically raise the price of sodas as soda manufacturers pass the cost on to consumers. We would also see a cost rise for all foods that incorporate corn, processed and not processed, as well as gasoline supplemented with ethanol. I would prefer to have a more realistic cost of these products than an additional tax.
      I’m in the public health field, and I’ve worked in tobacco cessation professionally. While a tax increase creates a spike in the number of people who try and succeed in quitting tobacco (because it’s important to remember that tobacco is a clear addictive substance, while highly processed corn has not been determined as such) it does not prevent teens and young people from starting. Therefore, a tax, or any price increase, is not going to work as an early preventative for many people who’d we’d like to prevent future chronic health conditions like diabetes.

  9. darkhorse

    While I agree that soda is one of the worst products you could consume, I oppose such a notion to tax it just because the government decided for me what is good and what is not. Suppose the government would decide that raw milk and unradiated foods were unhealthy and decided to tax or outlaw those…just because someone else thought that they were going to make people sick (eg. salmonella from spinach). Hmmm…sound familiar???

    • jackie

      I agree with you. What the government decides is unhealthy does not always match with what I believe is unhealthy. I don’t think taxing food is a bad idea as long as they aren’t outlawing certain foods (like raw milk, non-irradiated food). If someone wants to consume a soda they still can, but now it will cost more for the indulgence. I would want a guarantee that the tax money goes to gyms or diabetic research and not to other pockets.

  10. Gretchen @ veggiegrettie.com

    I actually like this idea a lot. It is akin to the tax on cigarettes in that it does not outlaw soda, it merely taxes it for those who choose to continue consuming it. Of course the hope is that it will reduce consumption, but for those who choose to purchase soda, the purchase would give our country some more income that it desperately needs.

  11. audrey greenwood

    Soda has become its own ‘food group’…even people who eat relatively healthy, drink soda throughout the day. Soda is supposed to be a treat. Diet or not, it is not something we ever need to drink. There is plenty of evidence now that the diet sodas reset our sweet tooth and diet sodas may lead to great weight gain…certainly does not reduce weight.
    We definitely should have a soda tax…who needs a half gallon of soda at a time????
    audrey

  12. The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan needs to be required reading for anyone who eats.

    The only reason food is cheap is because conventional and gmo farming is subsidized. Real food is not cheap, and is often unaffordable. Junk food, soda, processed food etc should all be taxed at a premium to allow whole foods to be subsidized and affordable.

    Soda is not actually food. It is a food-like substance. Anything that falls into the category of food-like-substance should be taxed.

  13. Wendy Hawkinson

    Where would it stop? All processed food? I think it’s a really bad idea, because once the government starts taxing where would the line be drawn? Americans would be taxed to death! There are very few healthy food choices because unless it is organic, it has all been tampered with (even then you have to wonder).

  14. The government should stop subsidies, let capitalism work. Get the government out of corn and grains and prices would rise naturally on soda if that is going to deter people.

    American’s choose to eat what they choose, just like many people are still smoking. I don’t know many people who have stopped smoking because it is so expensive, most do it because they realize the health consequences in their own lives. I know people who smoke that the last thing in their budget to be cut would be their nicotine.

    Again diabetes would be lessened with the government getting out. Americans used to eat less carbs until the government started pushing their ideal “plates”. Telling people to stop eating eggs and other “bad” foods without the science to really back it up.

  15. Tracy

    Once you make your opinion law you open that door for everyone. The government is not here to enforce belief systems. Our amazing government was originated to protect our right to individual belief systems. I don’t buy soda. I have educated my children on this decision. I still want them to use their minds in the future when they make those choices in their homes. I have beliefs that differ from our government on vaccines and the food pyramid. Most of us here are controversial in our dietary opinions and beliefs. Do you really want your life mandated by a panel of experts. No thank you. I want to do my own research and choose my own way. I want YOU ALL to have that right…even if I don’t agree with you. I have faith that we all find the way for ourselves.

    • totally agree tracey. as much as i am frustrated with the crap in the supermarket, i don’t want the gov’t involved with my eating choices. my idea of “healthy” differs far from most people, i don’t want “the gov’ts idea” imposed on my family

  16. Cassi Friz @ cassifriz.com

    the sad part to me is that some all-natural, real food based soda’s would also get the brunt of the tax. while the industry can afford a few more taxes, our small local root beer makers and ginger beer brewers would be the ones to really suffer at the check-out. Not that they sell like the big guys anyways.

    I think government subsidies should be withdrawn from the big ag industry. then our stores would reflect prices that would make local farms seem reasonable. and the artificially lowered prices of processed junk food would be unsustainable. local meat prices would also suddenly become reasonable as the industrial prices would have to rise to cover the cost of unsubsidized grains. The surplus glut of midwestern crops would fall apart, and our country would be forced to face the truth about where their food comes from and at what cost.

    granted, it’s pricey on the front end, but it could do our health care industry a lot of good and save a lot of children from sickly sad lives! and i’m speaking as a child who grew up with the pain of a wheat allergy and lactose intolerance in the 80′s- when no one even thought that food could hurt people so badly.

    Blessings-

  17. Jenn

    The government shouldn’t be subsidizing anything. Period. End of story.

  18. chs

    Getting rid of the agricultural subsidies that are contributing to this problem is the logical first step. Taxing the bads and supporting fresh, healthy foods makes sense.

    I’d recommend watching “Food, Inc.,” especially the story of the family where the kids were excited to buy fresh pears at the grocery store, but their parents couldn’t because they were too expensive. Feeding the whole family from the dollar menu at Wendy’s was cheaper (in the short term), even though the father was dying from heart disease and the kids were developing diabetes. Heartbreaking!

    Since the government and society wind up bearing the costs of these consumption-related diseases (diabetes, etc.), we all have some skin in the game. That is, if the government bears the cost on the back-end (Medicare, Medicaid), it should have be able to look upstream and support *prevention* of these health problems. Or at least help put the healthy choices on a level playing field, which they currently lack due to subsidies (and marketing).

  19. CJ Bray

    Great Idea! Something has to be done to curb the appetites for the North American diet. It is creating a huge burden on the system which we all have to pay for.
    Health education campaigns for the general public would be a good idea as well.

  20. Jan Moulder @ wyldewoodpapers.com

    Instead of taxing individual foods, we need to quit subsidizing the big industrial farms and start subsidizing small local farmers. I’d love to see organic farmers and the grass fed beef industry subsidized!

    • Stephanie

      I agree with the concept, but think the way to go is to reduce or get rid of subsidies for the big farmers & HFCS. Let the market reflect the real price of these non-food items rather than supporting the market flood of bad choices. This will increase revenue without a “tax.”

      As for those who respond with “get the government out of the food business,” be careful what you wish for. Conservative administrations have repeatedly gutted the FDA because it tests conditions at big slaughterhouses and food processors. We need food safety protections!

  21. Janet

    Terrible idea. Bittman and supporters are making a huge leap of faith here.
    Taxing soda in no way will cause increased consumption of vegetables. Taxing soda does one thing only: it makes soda more expensive. Parents and kids will simply purchase more expensive sodas, or buy a cheaper brand, or wait for it to go on sale and stock up. Period.

    No child on this green earth will decide to eat vegetables because Coke has gone up. Seriously.

    Why has smoking declined? Not because cigarettes cost more.

    Sorry to be negative. I hate seeing rolypoly children, and they are everywhere. Large concentrations are from poor income families where both parents are working, sometimes more than one job and have a hard enough time getting by without struggling to convince their kids into making healthier choices. It’s fast and satisfying to serve chips and sodas, at least in the immediacy of wanting to eat.

    Living in Los Angeles I know that too many kids do not have safe places to play outdoors which only perpetuates the problems. Schools serving Pizza Hut, KFC and McDonalds will never further the cause either.

    It’s such a crisis, I’d like to see mandatory community based parent education. We need to cone back to the community to thrive.

  22. Christina

    Paula o’Brian has touched on the crux of the problem. It is the subsidies to the big Agri business (aka mono culture, GMO, pesticide supporters) subsidies are largely to blame for the “unhealthy” pricing of food out in the market. The government’s fix for the unconsious problem they have created should be to take responsibility for the mistake and roll back those subsidies. By taxing sodas, the responsibility for this problem is placed in the hands of the poverty-stricken folks who consume a disproportionate ratio of these kinds of food-like substances.

  23. Mari

    No, absolutely not! The government always starts out with something that presumably makes sense, and then they expand their presence in it. What starts out as something that is good and beneficial ends up as a total mess that takes on a life of it’s own and never stops growing. Look at the mess the federal bureaucracy is in now. They can’t get anything done without spending a ton of money and then they screw everything up anyway. When they prove they can do something right and stop wasting money, maybe then they could consider doing something new. I agree that the corporate welfare should stop, but I don’t think a further tax is the answer. If something is the problem, don’t compound it. I have lived in several states where the states charge tax for candy and soda. It doesn’t stop anyone from consuming the stuff.

  24. Christine

    I agree with Mark Bittman’s proposed Soda Tax. I see plenty of kids in affluent communities from California to Kansas drinking soda, sports drinks, hi-cal coffee drinks, faux-juice, ANYTHING but water, teas or liquid foods like real fruit juice or milk.

    I saw it states to TAX SODA and SUBSIDIZE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. That would automatically force companies like ADM, Cargill, Monsanto, Kraft to get with the program or lose out to the competition. What’s wrong with making these HUGE monopolies pay for destroying the health of the nation, misleading the public and flat-out lying about nutritional value.

    Not only would this be good for the people but good for the planet as manufacturing all those food analogs has a high carbon footprint.

  25. Rebecca

    This would make me nervous as it leaves the burden of defining “unhealthy foods” up to our government. While I agree soda is unhealthy, I don’t appreciate the government telling me & my family what to eat. Nor do I see eye to eye with the government on many other foods they claim are unhealthy or healthy. It’s slippery slope. I read an article recently about a school system in Chicago that has banned students from bringing their lunches to school & has made cafeteria lunches mandatory arguing that their meals are healthier than what kids are bringing. While that may be true of some, it is not the case with my daughter. I would not want her eating what the school system defines as “healthy”. Where does it stop?

  26. Tina Jo

    Subsidies are BAD!!! Always. I do not want the government deciding what is healthy and unhealthy. They are not very good at it. Just look at the food pyramid for proof. I don’t even want Mark Bittman deciding what is healthy for me. I am an American, a free citizen, let me decide that.

  27. Amy

    So, he thinks a police state will cure what ails us. The question is, where will it end? Twenty to thirty years ago, the medical community said all fats were bad, go fat free. Now there are good fats and bad fats. We were told sun was bad. Now some sun is good. Should we allow the government to dictate what we eat and drink, when even the medical community can’t agree? I’m not saying that sugary soda will ever be good for you, but when did we start letting the government think for us?
    Personally, I think that if people were less busy, lived more simple lifestyles, and stopped trying to keep up with the Joneses, everyone would be healthier. One tends to make poorer choices when they are stressed, busy, overworked, sick, etc.
    BTW, Pittsburgh mayor tried to push for a soda tax last year (more to help the city coffers than to discourage drinking sugary stuff – as seen by the passing of the 50% parking tax, amusement tax, alcholic drink tax, etc. But I digress…) The proposed tax would be 2 cents on every ounce. That means the tax would add 40 cents to the cost of a 20-ounce bottle of pop and 24 cents to the price of a 12-ounce can. It would add $2.88 to the price of 12-packs and $1.35 to the cost of a 2-liter bottle.

  28. Brett Rainbow

    I have the following questions for the supporters of a sugar tax:

    1. Instead of taxing sugar, why not just tax body fat percentage directly? For example, anyone with over 25% body fat has their marginal tax rate increased by 5%. Please explain why this is acceptable/unacceptable vis a vis the sugar tax.

    2. Let’s say tomorrow that Mark Bittman comes out with an editorial saying we must tax saturated fat. As part of this, Bittman advocates banning coconut milk, coconut oil, and other coconut products. Please explain why this couldn’t happen if we go down the path of allowing the government to decide what’s best for us.

    Please not I am not in favor of government subsidies for grains, corn, or any other food product.

  29. Christine

    There seems to be some mass confusion here. First off, Mark Bittman isn’t a legislator. Secondly, it’s NOT the government that’s the problem it’s the billions spent on lobbying by the very corporations that are trashing our food supply, making the vast majority of soda/junk drinks that ARE the problem. Thirdly, It would be a move in the right direction to break up the stranglehold monopoly these few companies have on the entire planet, not just the US.

    Encouraging healthy eating and exercise by directing the proceeds towards gyms ( would prefer to see community based centers over private gyms) IS a good thing when there are so few places for kids to play, exercise, take gym classes, interact in team play without being in a sports league. Many areas simply don’t have those resources or families can’t afford them. Some kids aren’t good at team sports but still need to find some form of exercise that they will be likely to do their entire lives.

    • Sarah

      I agree with Christine. Our broken political system is the real root of the problem. My father just sent a brief ‘Letter to the Editor’ in response to Bittman’s article, which I hope will get published. In his letter, he takes Christine’s comment to the next step — it’s the special interest groups’ support of political campaigns that causes lawmakers to back corporate interests (like subsidies to make junk food cheaper to produce) rather than those of the voters and the public good. We should insist on public financing of political campaigns so legislators are beholden to the voters, not to those who produce junk food which only increases our health care crisis which we later pay for through taxes.

  30. chris

    i wonder if you have a way for me to get your feed in my google reader?

    thanks. chris

  31. No, more taxes and government regulation are not the answer. I would argue they are a significant part of the problem. I was taught the food pyramid in school. I’ve heard it come from schools, nutritionists, doctors, and more since. It was considered “gospel”. But clearly it was in error. Given it came out of the Department of Agriculture did anyone consider it biased in any way? Government tends to be believed unconditionally. Of *course* they have our best interests at heart. But they are impacted by lobbyists and other influences that are quite powerful. Instead, pull out subsidies and other government knots in the food system. Someone, please, create a private “Underwriters Laboratory” type of organization to rate food, food providers, evaluate nutrition claims, etc.

  32. Reiko

    I’m seeing a lot of posts about how the “government should stay out of our business,” so we should therefore not tax soda.

    Seriously? Does anyone even realize how integral government policies and subsidies already are in the food industry? If they can subsidize GMO corn and CAFOs, I say they can tax the shit out of soda and tobacco. Either that or go with no subsidies whatsoever, which is fine if you’re willing to let your less fortunate neighbors starve (the price of processed foods and factory farmed meat and dairy would skyrocket if there weren’t any food subsidies).

    But to let the government continue subsidizing factory farms and NOT tax process foods?? C’mon, people. Either the government continues meddling with our meals or we have a risky food revolution. Pick one view and support it consistently.

    • I think the solution is to remove *all* those subsidies and interventions. The whole system is a maze of imbalance reflecting the work of special interests. Some of those seem innocuous – subsidies for corn isn’t bad, eh? But they aren’t when they result in things like high fructose corn syrup. The system needs to reset and people need to be empowered and educated. And not educated with materials generated from the Department of Agriculture.

    • You really think that people would starve without hamburger helper (and the like)?

      Prices would fluctuate and corporations would do what they are good at, making money. They would find things to sell that lower income people could afford. The poor aren’t stupid.

      • Reiko

        This is not about stupid choices. It’s about economic decisions. A huge portion of food subsidies go towards meat, dairy and grains (we’re talking like 70% here). It’s not just processed foods that will get affected. All foods will, and everyone will need to pay more for their food. Personally, I am in a very comfortable financial situation and I can afford organic whole foods. Others, however, are not as fortunate, and for them it is more rational to buy cheap unhealthy foods than to sacrifice a larger fraction of their income on whole foods.

        • I just think there is another option like cheap healthy food. I am not wealthy and can not only eat organic. When we had a budget of $25 a week for my husband and myself we did not eat much of any processed food. Cooking from scratch is cheaper. There would still be potatoes, carrots, cabbage, lettuce and many other veggies available in the stores as well as many fruits for about the same price as they are currently. From what I have read beans are not subsidized and are cheap protein.

          There would be a time of food price changes, it might be a difficult. I just don’t believe any of my neighbors (or other Americans) would starve.

          I think the much more simple and less government involved way would be to unsubsidized corn and the price would go up on soda, no bureaucracy needed.

  33. Brenda Gaines

    http://www.naturalnews.com/029403_high_fructose_corn_syrup_liver_damage.html
    This article about new studies on high fructose corn syrup shows that hfcs is in almost all processed foods, not just soda, maybe we should tax high fructose corn syrup instead of subsidizing the production of genetically modified-RoundUp resistant corn.

  34. whatnext

    Elena, how do you suppose the cooking that some of us have to do (high-ish in fat and calories) would fare in the harsh spotight of the Food Police? how would your cupcake book do under this sort of scrutiny? there is some validity to the “camel’s nose under the tent” theory. underneath this apparently “reasonable” proposal, politics is always lurking. ever wonder why no one has gone after Ben and Jerry’s, the makers of that yummy stuff that equals hear attack on a sugar con? check their politics. that’s much of what counts with the Food Police, except maybe desiring to experience of the warm glow that enforcing their worldview in others “for their own good” gives them.

  35. Capi

    I agree with Jenn. The government needs to solve it’s own problems and quit subsidizing anything. Period. Only then might things even back out.

  36. whatnext

    sorry for the typos. my typing is hopeless….

  37. Jenna

    I absolutely agree wit a soda tax. It’s true I only have a few cane sugar sodas a year, but by the same token I wouldn’t oppose a coffee tax. I know every time I go into Starbucks I’m CHOOSING to spend money on something I don’t need, that is full of empty calories, and I view it as a treat. Same thing if they wanted to tax ice cream, potato chips, etc. Or even chocolate bars or bags of sugar. I’ll gladly help pay for veg subsidies if I choose to have a treat!

  38. SherriS.

    I do not want the government dictating to me what’s healthy or not. The current food pyramid shows a bigger portion of my daily diet should be grains – well I’m gluten intolerant! I’m losing weight (50 lbs now) by eliminating sugar and junk-food carbs out of my diet. I do this willingly not because I’m “taxed” for it.

    I also was amazed at the prices at the movie concession stand yesterday. Long lines of people buying very expensive junk food. Not me though. I’m on a tight budget.

    P.S. To an earlier poster: The government doesn’t need more money. They need to stop wasting it.

  39. JennyRose

    I spoke to a local elementary school principal about school lunches. He didn’t dismiss me, but wasn’t supportive of change. I have seen the cafeteria lunches at his school and the children with weight issues at his school. I asked if he ate the school lunch and he emphatically said “NO!”.

  40. Dena

    Wow ….If the goverment wants to control food and taxes…..what food is good and what food is bad…..try limiting FOOD STAMPS to only good food……why should we pay for these people to eat bad food?? This will help with Diabetic problesm as well….Leave the rest of us that pay for our own food ALONE :)

    • Stephanie

      I work with many people who receive food stamps, mostly mothers. Most of them are trying to stretch their money to get healthy food for their children.

      The best thing to come about in my area (Massachusetts, Boston metro) are grants that permit farmer’s markets to double food stamps money. Most local markets now accept food stamps and double the first $10 of food stamps spent to $20. My clients love it, and are so pleased to be able to introduce their children to fresh, healthy food even if they can’t afford it all the tim.

      Don’t limit what food stamps can buy, but find a way to make fresh foods easily available.

  41. Jenifer

    If the government can start controlling what we eat and consume, then where does their control end? Ya, its nice that people want to help this fat epidemic in our country but its not okay when it means infringing on our rights. The constitution protects us against this kind of control. Control is bad, its socialist…and its time that we stand by our constitution and keep the government out of everything.

  42. Jay

    I’m in British Columbia. Any “foods” considered junk, soda pop, candies & confectionery items(including, chocolates,nuts, raisins, and those coated with candy, chocolate, syrup, etc) Snack foods, dietary supplements where health claims are made, wines, spirits, beer, other alcoholic beverages, fruit based beverages with only 25% fruit juice by volume, single serving puddings etc, all have an added 12% tax.

    I’m in total agreement with taxing junk food. It should only be bought as a once in a while treat anyway. If parents are buying junk food regularly, they’re setting their children up for a lifetime of health issues. Who’d want to do that?

  43. This is a toughy, but I am really tired of the government’s involvement in almost EVERYTHING. And it is getting worse.

    What really makes me upset is the ADA (American Diabetes Association). Check out this recipe that is recommended as being a good choice for diabetics: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/recipes/double-chocolate-brownies.html

    Complete w/ white flour, sugar, fat free fudge sauce and egg substitute.
    They ought to refund all of the money they have taken in donations for this recommendation.

    • Jay

      The book your recipe is from Mr Foods diabetic cookbook & is being sold through the ADA website to help raise funds. Any book that is purchased throught the ADA or CDA websites, the DA, get a percentage of. Sometimes a book thats not up to YOUR standards as a true diabetic cook bok is sold, as fund raising for diabetes is low on the totem pole. In reality, there is no diabetic cookbook on the market that is a “great” diabetic cookbook. Common sense, and learning all you can about diabetic exchanges, carbs, fats, sugars, free foods, etc are the best “cookbook” for a diabetic and the diabetics spouse.

      My DH is a diabetic. He also eats normal everyday foods, regular cakes, brownies, cookies, pies, desserts, etc. I never make diabetic dessert or treat recipes as most of them taste horrid, and. or, have a horrid texture. They are also, a waste of costly baking ingredients as even diabetic desserts are restricted to portion size. My DH knows he has to be in control of the size of the dessert or sweet he wants to eat. He also knows if he want that dessert or sweet, he has to deduct the dessert exchanges, from his meal exchanges. Even if the dessert he was going to eat was a diabetic dessert, those exchages would have to be deducted from the meal exchanges.

      You forgot an important notation from the ADA reguarding the recipe you’ve linked us too. I suggest you add the entire thing next time, instead of trying to push the Omg, look at this, panic button.

      Here is what you conveniently omitted…

      ________________________________________________________________________

      Not all recipes presented here are necessarily appropriate for all people with diabetes, nor will all recipes fit into every meal plan. No two meal plans are alike. Work with your health care provider, diabetes educator or dietitian to design a meal plan that’s right for you, and includes the foods you love. A key message for people with diabetes is “Carbs Count.” Foods high in carbs (carbohydrates) — bread, tortillas, rice, crackers, cereal, fruit, juice, milk, yogurt, potatoes, corn, peas, sweets — raise your blood glucose levels the most.

      For many people, having 3 or 4 servings of a carb choice at each meal and 1 or 2 servings at snacks is about right. Keep an eye on your total number of servings. For example, if you choose to have dessert, cut back on potatoes.

      Round out your meals with a serving of:

      •Meat (such as fish or chicken) or meat substitute (such as beans, eggs, cheese, and tofu) about the size of a deck of cards and
      •Non-starchy vegetables (such as broccoli or lettuce). If you have three (3) or more servings of non-starchy vegetables, count them as a carbohydrate choice. Three (3) servings is equal to 1 1/2 cups of cooked vegetables, or three (3) cups of raw vegetables.
      Check your blood glucose to see how your food choices or these recipes affect your blood glucose. If your meal plan isn’t working for you, talk to your dietitian about making a new one.

      Along with exercise and medications (insulin or oral diabetes pills), nutrition is important for good diabetes management. By eating well-balanced meals in the correct amounts, you can keep your blood glucose level as close to normal (non-diabetes level) as possible.

      The recipes on this page are only a part of what is offered in recipe books from the American Diabetes Association. Many also include information on meal planning, portion control, food buying and seasoning, as well as general cooking hints and tips for people with diabetes.

  44. jej

    I am not for expanding government intervention… BUT if people expect the government to pay their health costs, this is the best solution. The easiest way to get healthier is to eat basic unprocessed foods. It’s made a huge improvement in my own health.

    • Marcy

      Awesome point.
      But I also don’t believe the government has any business getting involved in health care. Since that train has left the station, awesome point.

      • Jay

        I don’t understand why you and many more Americans are so against universal/government health care? In Canada, we, as well as other commonweath countries, have universal/government health care.

        Because of a couple of unexpected accidents, and a couple of unexpected emergency medical problems, I’ve had to have a few lenghty surgeries over the years. I have also had numerous medical specialists appointments. Because we have government health care, I do not have to pay for doctors appointments, or specialist appointments. I do not have to pay for any hospital surgeries, nor do I have to pay for hospital room stays, unless I wish to upgrade to a private room at 10-15 dollars a day. In other words, I don’t have to mortgage my home or take out a bank loan to pay medical bills.

        Tell me.. How can that be a bad thing?

        • Leah

          Again, Jay, as I pointed out before, you DO pay for all of those things, you just don’t see the “bill” directly. Nationalizing healthcare will not make it free, it will simply shift the way we pay for it. Right now, the profit margin of insurance companies is around 3% (that’s not exact, but you can look up the current figures easily). Personally, I don’t trust my government to offer care more efficiently. I also think services will be overused when people think of it as “free”, when, again, it is absolutely not free. How does this solve any problems? If there are people in need of services they cannot afford, there is localized aid available in many places. The government also provides aid to those who qualify. Hospitals are willing to work out payment plans or discount services, as well. There’s no reason for nationalized healthcare in this country. Medicaid/Medicare, our current national system, is what has caused mark ups and other issues across the board, perhaps our government should try to work out the current systems in place before they expand it.

          • Leah

            And, Jej, do you truly believe the government is qualified to make decisions about health? I certainly agree that soda is not healthy, but the government also believes butter, lard, bacon, red meat, etc, etc are heart attack inducing, and canola oil is a health food, while the research shows they’re wrong. If we let them tax soda, what will be next?

          • Jay

            Of course we pay towards our health care, we’d not have a universal health care plan if no one paid into it. That’s just common sense.

            If, my employer did not cover the majority of my medical premium cost throughout my working years, (which is what most employers here do) I would have had to pay a monthly premium of $60.50 if single, $109 if a family of 2, or $121 for a family of 3 or more. The percentage of the medical premium the employee has to pay, is deducted from the employees paycheck so there is no having to deal with medical premium bills arriving in the mail. When an employee retires, or thier yearly income drops because of loss of job etc, we have premium assistance. A percentage is deducted from the monthly premium cost depending on what the yearly income is. If the yearly income falls to 22 grand and under, premium assitance will cover full medical premium costs.

            There are few restrictions with our medical coverage unlike the US. If a child has an existing illness, they will not be denied medical coverage, which seems to be commonplace with US private insurers.

            That’s it in a nutshell. I either pay my medical premiums myself yearly, or my employer pays the majority of it, and I pay the small percentage thats left via my paycheck.

            At an average cost of $726 a yr for a single person in Canada, any surgeries, doctors visits, specialist visits, hospital stays, X-rays, MRI’s, CT’s, Cardiograms, stress tests, blood tests, medical tests of any sort, are covered.

            I never see endless medical bills piling up like some of my US friends have seen. I also do not have the endless amount of rediculous medical paperwork that some of my close US friends have had to deal with either.

  45. Wendy

    You know, I don’t like the thought of taxing something like that and I don’t have a lot of confidence that the government would wisely use the revenue these days, but I can’t really argue with his article. I did go read it. I saw that Michelle Obama is teaming up with grocery chains to bring grocery stores into areas that don’t have any at all – only fast food choices. And then my DH was mentioning that he heard on the radio about an area here in the greater Los Angeles area that is 40 square miles and not one grocery store. I think eating right is a complex issue and I agree that things need to change for so many.

  46. Gloria Kolp

    I say yeah, it’s about time we tax the things that are ruining our childrens health. The eating habits in this country are embarrassing.We should also be giving the local organic farmers a helping hand.

  47. Brandy

    I LOVE IT! Fruit and vegetables should be subsidized such that a wholesome meal costs less than a hungry-man tv dinner or a McD’s meal! The cheaper solution should be the less processed (lower actual cost) one.

    I bet smoking has gone down primarily b/c of information campaigns more than increased taxes.

  48. samara

    I think we should stop subsidizing food. Food is a subjective thing and people are smart enough to make their own choices (or not – but we do live in a democracy where people can choose their own food!). Don’t tax soda. Don’t subsidize fruit. Let food (fruit, milk, meat, veggies, eggs, whatever) be demanded and supplied locally. The government should get out of it. Look at how difficult it is to grow or produce local fruit/veggies/raw milk, etc because of the government’s involvement.

  49. Sara H.

    My knee jerk reaction is yay! tax soda because I feel that the mix of chemicals and sugar are highly toxic to our bodies and shudder when I see people (especially kids) drinking mega bottles of it. But then I see where it could lead- already raw dairy has ben villanized by the government and anything high in fat such as coconut milk and saturated fat that paleo people such as myself feel is healthful and healing is targeted as unhealthy by a government that believes fat is a killer. I personally think that red meat (esp. grassfed) is very healthy because of it’s abundance of omega 3′s and that chicken is less so because of it’s higher omega 6′s. However, I could see them wanting to tax red meat and not chicken. I don’t think we can trust our government to get it right when they never have before. If they would leave it at taxing non-food “food” I would be all for it.
    I get angry that veggies are so expensive and junk food so cheap.
    I’m sorry to waffle but this is a complicated issue.

  50. Stephanie

    I don’t drink much soda so I am not sure where I stand on this issue. When I first heard of the idea to tax soda, I thought of it as a luxury tax. I realize most people who drink soda do not think of it as a luxury … but it’s a treat, not a necessity. I think of the tobacco tax the same way.

  51. Sarah

    I am all for healthy food choices. Imo most soda is poison as are a lot of other foods.

    As for a soda tax or any other food tax. NO WAY! I think that government assistance in the production of unhealthy foods (i.e. subsidizing corn) should stop too.

    There is no way on earth I want the government, or any other organization, telling me what I should and should not be eating. Especially through some kind of ‘force’ such as taxes, outlawing foods etc. I don’t agree with the fda’s food pyramid or many other things that the government conisders healthy or unhealthy.

    I definitely think it is incredibly insane to “protect” people from their own “stupidity” or whatever. I am glad I don’t live in a socialist nation and hope ours doesn’t continue to lean in that direction.

    One of the things we need to have to begin a Real change is doctors who have a far better understanding of real nutrition and it’s role in our health. I have not met a single md who has a deep understanding of the way our body works with the food we consume. People listen to their doctors. Especially parents to pediatricians. This would be far better than an arbitrary tax to effect a change in people’s habits.

  52. Sarah

    I don’t disagree with a soda tax, but I’m not sure I agree either. I’d have to read the research from Yale he references, as I have a hard time believing they actually proved that a tax at that level would lead to behaviour change on a large level. Sure it would lead to some behaviour change, but the question is how much? Here in Australia junk food is EXPENSIVE. But our obesity problem is nearly as bad as the states. Cost alone does not deter people from eating unhealthy foods. Sure it will deter some, but again, the question is how many?

    Bittman makes good points, but makes inaccurate assumptions on a few counts. The most irritating of which is this: you can’t isolate the tax on tobacco and attribute the decline in smoking to the tax. This discounts the countless number of social marketing and behaviour change programs targeting smoking, and the public health workers who work on them. There’s a large body of literature discussing these results, and he doesn’t even bother to reference the fact that the tax alone was not solely responsible for the decline.

  53. Marcy

    Oh my word -
    Is this really the appropriate place to discuss this? Why does every food blogger try to use their platforms to push their political beliefs?

    The answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. Honestly – who is the government to decide which industries to punish? Why soda and not candy? Why stop at candy? Why not fast food? Where in the world does it stop? When everyone eats like you think they should?

    This also assumes that making unhealthy choices is related to income levels. If that were the case there would be no obesity among middle and higher income families. Clearly not the case.

    I’d be all for the government teaching people HOW to be more healthy, but PUH LEASE. The soda industry is no more to blame than the fast food industry, or the processed food industry. It’s just another way for people to absolve themselves of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. And PS – the farmers are already subsidized.

    People not interested in personal responsibility are always looking for someone to blame.

    • Catie

      Marcy, this is the perfect place to discuss this…In fact, I can’t think of a better place. A forum in which people are speaking freely about healthy choices on a blog about healthy choices. Furthermore, this is Elana’s blog and she can write and ask about whatever she pleases just as you can read and answer her thoughts and questions however you please.

      • Marcy

        You’re so right, Catie. Sorry for my outburst.
        I’m a newbie to Elana’s forum and have so enjoyed coming here the last few weeks. I’ve written so much praise and thanks for her recipes and that she has taken the time to share her talents and discoveries with us. I’m just so personally disappointed to see it turn into a forum to criticize and demonize an entire industry.

        I would remove my comment if I could; clearly an opinion that’s not welcome here. My apologies.

      • Catie

        No, I think there are many in your camp – read through the comments again…many are for No Tax. Together, we’ll meet somewhere in the middle and begin to create solutions to our obesity/health crisis our country faces. And, I wholeheartedly agree, education is our only path to that center.

      • Marcy

        Hey, Catie -
        I was trying to pinpoint what it was about your post that bothered me so much, and here it is -

        this isn’t a discussion about healthy food. There isn’t a question on whether or not excessive amounts of soda is healthy. This discussion is about government intervention and whether or not we should ask the government to a) determine which behaviors are “bad” and then trust them to b) determine the right punishment those behaviors. It really has very little to do with healthy food or eating habits. It’s politics. That’s why it feels out of place to me here.

        Your point is still right on – Elana can blog about anything she wants. It’s her site and that’s 100% her right.

        • Catie

          Actually, it’s not about politics it’s not about government intervention it’s about taxing soda. The discussion has shifted to “Government in my kitchen”. Well, no one is really inviting them there. Soda is the number one contributor to childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is now classified as an Epidemic.
          As in “Emergency”.
          As in “Crisis”.
          This much we know. Divisive political discussions only cloud the issue and prevent common sense actions by concerned parents and health care professionals all over our country. Bittman suggests the soda tax…you don’t like it…what is your alternate suggestion then? I think we are all available for constructive discussion. I’m open to hear other solutions. Unfortunately, the “personal responsibility” one isn’t working.

    • Kathy

      They are already rewarding some industries and by default punishing others. Where has your outrage been all this time?

  54. Paleo Rob @ paleoz.com

    Tax should only be used as source of revenue for the government and not as method of social engineering.

    The government definition of what is healthy and what I know to be healthy is very different. Once the mechanism is in place, how hard would it be for the government to put red meat, butter or god forbid bacon on the list?

    If anything the playing field should be leveled and all subsidies should simply be removed (especially the ones on soy and corn).

  55. Karen Schudson @ none

    I’m all for imposing these kind of taxes. Too bad it’s such a “hot potato”. Funny how people who don’t want government intrusion also complain that government does too little.

  56. Soda should be a luxury item. HFCS should NOT be subsidizedt, and an extra tax on it is fine with me. I’m fine paying taxes on my liquor, and I’m very happy with cigarettes being taxed too. Heck, I’d be happy if we’d legalize marijuana, regulate it, and tax the hell out of it.

    But I’m a crazy liberal, I know. I’d love to see our tax brackets back to Clinton-era rates.

    You know what I’d also love to see: restricting the use of food stamps from being used for candy, soda, and other junky garbage. Everyone can kill themselves in their own way, but I’d rather my tax dollars not subsidize that. If anything, use the money to pay to help these people NOT kill themselves.

  57. Anna Marie

    NO NO NO. The Government has no right. It is the parents responsibility to parent their child NOT the Govt. I understand that it doesn’t seem fair that fruit costs more than soda, but life isn’t fair. I neither drink soda, nor do I give it to my children, but if someone chooses to that is up to them, We have to do our job as responsible adults/citizens/parents. Keep the Govt. out of my house

    • DJDeeJay

      Fruit doesn’t actually cost less than soda, all things considered. I mean, think about it: all the chemicals that are used in soda, the packaging, the marketing – how could it cost less? Because the government is ALREADY interfering by offering subsidies for corn (like the corn syrup in sodas), soy and other mass crops. Take away those subsidies and we’d see the true costs of real foods vs. processed products.

      The government is already in our homes and has been forever. We’re just so used to it that we don’t see it.

  58. Jennie Johnson

    I am opposed to Mark Bittman’s soda tax! For every tax dollar that the government takes in only 19 cents of it actually accomplishes anything because of all the fraud and government waste. Do you trust your savings account with the average politician? Why should we share more of our savings accounts with people who steal and defraud us on a regular basis? Everyone deserves the free will to choose how they will live. Only people who are dysfunctional feel the need to control the lives of other people. Media and Politicians are pushing their dysfunctionality on us, next they will make a law to take children away from their parents if the children are too thin or fat (such a law is being considered by the President as we read this blog). Can the government handle all those who are incarcerated, is there money for social security or medicare for those who have paid in and yet there will be money for a huge Foster program for under- and over-weight children? Does the government know how to raise your children better than you do? Does the government know what the ideal weight is for every child based on their genetics? Would a Village love your children more than you do? Or is the family unit the best place for children to be raised and nurtured? Let’s stop believing the lies of the media and politicians and think for ourselves. Do we really want government telling us how to live our lives?

    • DJDeeJay

      “such a law is being considered by the President as we read this blog”

      No, the President is not considering this law right now. It was suggested by an article in a medical journal. That’s as far as it’s gotten as of now.

  59. D. Linehan

    Am so tired of being taxed on any and everything the gov’t thinks they can get away with…..soda tax–ridiculous! If people want to drink soda, they will. Why tax it? Apparently this man thinks people are so stupid they can’t make up their own minds if soda is good for them or not, so by golly, he’s going to push for legislation to tax soda! Will it really stop people from buying soda? The answer is a resounding NO! Get out of our wallets and stop pushing us more towards a Nanny state where the government takes care of and regulates our lives even more, and takes away our freedoms, one at a time.

    • DJDeeJay

      You think adding taxes, and therefore raising the price, of sodas won’t convince people to drink less? Did you read the article? They did the exact same thing with cigarettes and the smoking rate has plummeted by 50% in 50 years. Prices do affect consumption.

      • AnnMarie

        Interesting! And I would like to see some transparency in what is done with the tax “revenues” that the government collects in connection with tobacco. I, for one, decided to implement my own greenhouse of sorts and plant my own veggies to supplement the few that I buy from farmer’s markets or, rarely, from the store. When will people see that more taxation is not the answer for anything? I just don’t get how some people lost their sense of empowerment. It’s incredible.

      • Leah

        How can they isolate the cause of the decrease in smoking? Many other things have gone on to discourage smoking in the last 50 years, one can hardly say definitively that the tax caused the decrease. I would venture to guess it actually had very little to do with it, but that would just be my opinion.

  60. Victoria

    Wow. There is a lot of passion generated from this topic. I don’t really get the outrage but then again perhaps it is because I am a young parent disgusted by the fast/fake food menus and sugary drinks masquerading as kids menus in restaurants and cafeterias. I am all for taxing or funding any way to encourage more economically feasible healthy choices. Where is the real outrage for the lack of true supervision over our food supply? You all feel free to gripe about how your taxes aren’t well spent but that isn’t exactly going spur positive change. If there are better ways to change how our society eats and how we can get the public to look more closely at the food they select, I am all ears.

    • Leah

      The outrage is from people who, while they agree that soda is not healthy and is causing harm to people’s health, know that the government will not stop at soda. You are happy to let the government tax soda because it agrees with your ideology, but how will you feel when the government starts taxing butter? Eggs? Red meat? (Insert a food that you find healthy but the government may classify as “heart attack on a plate” here)? Whether you agree with the fact that soda is unhealthy or not (which I think we all agree it is) is not the point. The point is that it’s outside the state’s power to impose lifestyle choices on people via taxation.

    • AnnMarie Deis

      The real outrage, for me, is that we have supposed “officials” to watch over our food supply, yet e. coli has been found in countless foods, arsenic in chicken supply, and who knows what new-fangled chemical concoction is sprayed on our precious vegetables and fruits! I am looking out for my food supply because I am making that choice. I am really astounded here to hear so many people apparently leaving their food safety and choices up to other people. I am wondering when we will begin to take responsibility for what we eat. Empowerment!!!

      • Jay

        If you didn’t have those “officials” checking the foods you and your family consume, many more people would be sick with e-coli, salmonella, or dead. The “officials” may not be perfect, they may not find every million or so bacteria, or ilegally used chemical sprays by farmers,(how could they be when theres not enough of them hired to take on such a large task?) The one thing they do have going for them that you do not have, is knowledge about what they do. The internet that most garner their so called wise thinking, is not a university, it is not a college, it is not a school where a person learns how to be whatever they strive to be. The internet is a cyberworld of other peoples opinions only.

        Honestly. The holier than thou, I will never trust anyone but myself to judge a food or product as safe, are the ones who end up screaming the loudest when one of there own becomes ill or hurt from that ill informed judgement.

  61. Jami Fynboh

    I am totally against any MORE government involvment! Stay out of people’s lives and choices! This America…once upon a time that stood for taking personal responsibility for our own personal choices, slowly but surely that has been replaced with the government taking over!

  62. jodie @ jodiecope.com

    Fascinating! I could really rally behind this one!

  63. Jenn R.

    I might be able to get behind the “sugar” tax, but once we set a precident for taxing “bad” food, then we have to have an expert debate on what is “bad.” Right now, the government isn’t doing a very good job with identifying “bad” food. They subsidize corn, wheat, and soybeans, but vilify saturated fat. No thanks. Better to stay completely out of the food business. Eliminate subsidies completely, reinstitute home-economics classes in high schools – you know, where you learned to cook – and make sure people understand where their food comes from. The closer to the hoof, pasture, orchard, and veggie patch we can eat, the healther we are all going to be.

  64. Elana triggered some thoughts of my own and I put them together in this blog post. http://stuffifeedbrian.blogspot.com/2011/07/thoughts-on-cleaning-up-our-food-system.html. I think we really can find a middle ground between Big Brother and corporations carelessly poisoning our food system.

  65. Jay

    To the commentors who want your government to stay out of your kitchen. A word of advice. Be careful of what you wish for.

    I live in Canada where basic groceries, dairy especially, are expensive. I can, if I wish to drive an hour and a half,(plus wait another hour to two hours in a car line-up, at times,) cross the border into the US, and buy my groceries in Bellingham.

    A short comparison between my usual food item costs, and what my food item costs are if I shop in the US.

    A 4 litre jug of milk here, $4.93. Across the border, $2.99.

    A pound of unsalted butter, $5.69. Across the border, $3.69.

    A dozen large eggs, $2.89-$3.49. Across the border, $1.89.

    A two pound block of cheese $16.25. (yes that’s correct) across the border, $4.99.

    A 1 1/2 Kilo bag of frozen chix breasts, $13.00 – 15.00, across the border, $6.99.

    If I shopped in the US instead of home on a regular basis, I could very well, save up to $100-$125 a week on my grocery bill, but still do most of my food shopping at home.

    So to all you who are saying keep the goverment out of our lives/kitchens, let us be in control of food prices. You might want to do some research on that, before you jump the gun. Believe it or not, the majority of the US has reasonable pricing on food. One only needs to move to my Canadian city for a year, to find that is very true.

    • I am not sure about how Canada’s food system operates, but one guess would be you have more government involvement, not less, based on most other things I know about Canada. I have heard of something about agricultural marketing boards, how they make food prices higher North of the border.

    • Leah

      The problem with your logic is that we already pay for our ‘cheap’ groceries. Where do you think the government gets money for subsidies? Out of our paychecks. I would rather the government not choose what industries deserve my money just so that groceries can appear cheaper. And before you argue that your taxes are higher than ours: that’s because you benefit from other socialist programs that don’t exist in the states.

      • Jay

        My logic or point of being careful of what you with for, was not to mock your “cheap groceries”. My goodness, if I visit the states I’m all for your lower food prices, and do stock up on what I’m allowed to bring back to Canada. Especially cheese!
        What I was trying to get across was be careful what wish for requarding your government, as maybe they’ll decide to get thier mitts into your dairy, egg, and poultry industries as well..

    • Jenn R.

      I live in the US, and I generally pay about what you’re paying in Canada for my foods. BUT – I choose to pay those prices for local/pastured no antibiotic raised meats, dairy and organic veggies. I primarily shop at local farmer’s markets to find the best choices, environmentally and nutritionally.

      • Jay

        I also choose to buy my fruits and veggies at our local farmers market or our nearby farms. On average, I spend 45-65 dollars a week on fruits and veggies for two people. This past weekend with family coming to visit, my produce bill alone was $104. I don’t buy produce in a grocery store except for the rare times they bring in a local farms produce.

        I worked for a major grocery chain for 26 yrs and know that the majority of the produce my store as well as the other grocery chains in my city stock, are imported from the US, and elsewhere. Very little is brought in locally until the fall when the apple season begins.
        Although it costs more money, and as long as I/we can afford it, we will do our best to support our local farmers market, and local farms.

  66. Betsy

    I absolutely disagree with government involvement on regulating what we can and can’t eat. Where will it end? There are doctors today that don’t believe the fruit we eat today is healthy as it’s way too sweet. I personally rarely eat organic berries and make a batch of ginger cookies with yacon a couple times a year. I feel healthier eating this way but would not deny anyone there agave, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup or fruit! Sugar is sugar.

  67. Kimberley

    I’m English and I wish our government would implement an idea like this. I grew up in the country surrounded by farmland and yet at my local shop fizzy drinks and sweets, pound for pound, still cost less than vegetables . It makes me ill to think I could get a pizza tonight for less than the cost of the ingredients of the salad I’ll be having instead. I’m effectively being forced to choose between being healthy and poor or wealthy and ill. There’s something inherently wrong about that.

    • Theresa

      And that is the problem – industrial farming is considered farming, which it is NOT. If we could truly tax highly processed junk only, and subsidize organic ‘real’ farm food, then there might be some headway. But that is not what will happen. What is considered “healthy” by the government and industry, will continue to be highly processed, low fat junk, because that is where the largest profits are.

  68. Tabitha Teeter

    No, thanks. I wish this would work out well since my husband might decide soda isn’t worth drinking anymore. BUT until government subsidizes food rather than ethanol (corn), soy, cottonseed and industrial crud, I don’t trust them. This is the same government (FDA) telling Diamond Foods walnuts are drugs and subject to FDA regulation.

  69. Tabitha Teeter

    @Jay in BC-
    Do people with special needs (allergies/Celiac) get an exclusion for these taxes? I take supplements, use ingredients like nuts, chocolate, raisins, maple syrup, etc. If I were in BC would I be taxed more for eating grain free/dairy free and homemade foods?
    ——-
    “I’m in British Columbia. Any “foods” considered junk, soda pop, candies & confectionery items(including, chocolates,nuts, raisins, and those coated with candy, chocolate, syrup, etc) Snack foods, dietary supplements where health claims are made…”

    • Jay

      Tabitha

      Only nuts & raisins that are considered a confectionary, as in coated with chocolate or candy coating, or packaged & treated with salt, sugars etc, for snacking on, are taxed. Plain nuts, raw, in the shell, unshelled, all baking nuts & baking peanuts are tax exempt. As for chocolate, if its baking chocolate, chocolate chips, slabs of chocolate, its tax exempt, but chocolate bars or chocolate confectionaries, as in a box of chocolates, are taxed.

      Gluten free products (which we have a good variety of) are tax free, as well as all gluten free flours & baking mixes. Vitamins & supplements within the last 1 1/2 yrs, are now a taxable item here.

      Basically, if a food item is in its closest natural state, or if it’s for baking or cooking a meal, it is not taxable. If it’s packaged up or junked up like chips, dips, candy coated anything, pop, half juice half sugar drinks, its taxable.

  70. sam

    though i am generally opposed to increased control and political pushing and shoving of the people i have to admit upon first hearing this i loved the idea… education is usually a better answer, all across the board however it’s less likely to actually happen.
    yes i think this is a great move, hitting people in the pocket will be more effective than offering nutrition and health classes.

  71. Theresa

    Taxing soda is NOT the answer. The government has pushed the “low fat” agenda for decades, with the result that more artificial foods are now deemed “healthy” and “heart healthy”, and many nutritious whole foods have been demonized, such as coconut oil, real butter, grass fed meats, and raw milk.
    Unfortunately, what it comes down to, is that it is not Government telling us what to eat, it is Industry. What they can make money from, they endorse, therefore, the large increase in artificial foods masquerading as “healthy” foods.

    If funds are needed for subsidies for fruits and vegetables, then take those funds from the subsidies on corn, wheat and soy.
    Then there will be more than sufficient funds, and a reduced emphasis on grains.

  72. Sylvia

    I blame the goverment for fat kids as that most of our kids time is spent at school. The schools serve the same bad food for years. They say just go by the food pyramid and you will be healthy but what about portion control. The schools have cut down p.e. from every day to one to two times a week. There is almost no recess as they use it as a punishment for the kids talking or misbehaving in class or the teacher just doesn’t want to go outside. Oh by the way you can get fat eating healthy foods because you ate too much.

  73. Jay

    @Sylvia.

    Sorry, but blaming the government and schools for overweight children is utter nonesense. Parents are first and foremost the ones responsible for what goes into their childrens stomaches, as well as portion control & regular exercise. Passing the blame onto the government and schools for parental shortcomings, is a cop-out. Proper nutrition should always start at home. It is our responsibility as parents to try to keep our children as healthy as possible, not the government or schools.

  74. A “bad food” tax… interesting concept. In theory, sure, it could be fabulous! Parents would buy fruits and vegetables instead of cookies and soda, and the overall health of Americans would improve! Oh wait… nothing happens the way we would hope. “Bad food” is very subjective! To a diabetic, yes, sugar is bad! To a vegetarian, meat is bad! To a vegan, cheese is bad! To me, anything with gluten could cause cancer! Ok, all that aside, it isn’t the government’s responsibility to influence our decision on what we should or should not eat. It being our decision on what we eat, we also should take responsibility of the effects it has on our bodies. So if someone wants to eat fast food and gets fat, it’s that person’s fault, and they shouldn’t sue the fast food business. It’s actually pretty clever to tax soda or anything with sugar actually because people are going to buy what they want, no matter the price! Granted, the article says the tobacco tax has lowered the smoking rate, but really? How many people are willing to pay airport prices on snacks and water, prices which are triple outside of the airport?

  75. sandrine

    Oh Elena, I love your blog so much, thank you for sharing your ideas and recipes. My whole family and I are Paleo lovers. Our 3 years old little boy is now asthma free (his condition used to be terribly severe). Your recipes are fantastic ! We do not miss our home-made croissants anymore, thanks to your beautiful pancakes and others delicacy (we are a French family living in Australia).

    I believe in evolution.
    I believe taxation is doing the exact opposite than making people to evolve. Education is the only proper way.

    Any frustration must be completely eliminated. By making a product more expensive, it would just make it less accessible financially but not less coveted (probably more!). Unfortunately.

    The example of tobacco in my opinion is far from being objective. I used to smoke for 15 years. What made me quit was not the price (increasing drastically every year) but my education. Reason won ! When you have an addiction, it is not the price which make you change your mind. But your mind in itself. After reading, watching, hearing, witnessing so many stories, medical researches, drama and so on, I decided to stop, for my children, for the sake of my health, by myself. Because I simply realized I was killing myself. I believe that it is the case of the majority of the smokers. So I doubt greatly of the objectivity of these statistics. They are just useful for the state to legitimate their taxations. Do not you think education (TV, radio, school, parents…) and advertising helped a lot more to reduce the tobacco consumption ?

    Also I believe ‘uneducated’ people would still buy this kind of products anyway and they probably would put less money in fruits and veggies instead.

    Sadly, I actually witness my beautiful country, France, collapsing under the heaviness and absurdity of taxations. People are not sharing anymore. They became very distant to each others. They cannot make it anymore, every month is financially too hard.. But people still use their cars (despite extremely heavy taxation on petrol), still smoke (extremely heavy taxation)… But they do not dream anymore. They do not have an euro left at the end of the month.

    I believe that people like you Elena are making the REAL difference. You graciously share your knowledge and your skills with us, the community, with a wonderful generosity. That is all what is about. You have no idea how you help ! Way much better than a man who is seeking an electorate. Thank you so much for that.

    Une fidele lectrice !

  76. audrey

    I have been following all the comments with great interest.
    We are all being holier than thou…clearly anyone who is blogging from this link from Eleana’s Pantry is well educated re food/big agra/GMOs, etc, etc. I suspect we all cook most of our food; we might disagree on the details such as dairy vs no dairy, sodas made with organic ingredients, meat no meat, etc, but we understand food vs ‘edible food like substances’. We all can walk into a regular market and not even be tempted to buy Flaming Hot Cheetos or cakes filled with chemicals to provide color and flavor. Most of us would not choose to eat at a fast food place.

    But most people have absolutely no clue what they are eating…even well educated folks. And they don’t know to read the ingredients on foods such as ‘whole grain’ bread to notice there is High Fructose Corn Syrup in it and that most of the wheat is processed. Few people cook anymore. They see everyone drinking soda everyday, all day, so it must be ok to drink 40 oz of the stuff. As a physician who preaches good nutrition all the time to well educated families, I see the ignorance every day.

    There obviously needs to be a tremendous amount of education along with attempts to change hot lunches at schools so kids know what a healthy meal is, ala Jamie Oliver, more markets in inner cities, etc, etc. just as there was education re smoking. But if we provide the education along with disincentives by hitting the pocketbook with higher prices, we are more likely to get people to start thinking about putting junk in their mouthes.

  77. Eva

    When our own first lady cannot contain herself from her own junk food binges, who is the government or any other liberal who wants to dictate what we can and cannot eat have this say so? Ridiculous. Sorry, but even the “good foods” can make people fat…right, Elena? After all you post lots of fattening and sugary treats yet claim it healthy. When it boils down to it, it is all about portion control.

    • Jean

      Regular readers of Elana’s blog know that her recipes are wholesome. She is a great mom who makes wonderful treats that I can feel good about giving my children. Elana, I don’t know what I would do without your wonderful inspiration! I make your recipes daily for my family, and we are all quite fit.

      Portion control? Not really. Ever read Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes?

      • Betsy

        I feel Elana’s website has offered great alternative food choices for people who want to avoid all grains. Most of her recipes are way too sugary for me. As I said in a earlier post, many doctors today feel that the fruit we consume today is too sweet let alone agave, honey, maple syrup etc….We are approaching a slippery slope when the government starts intruding on what we put in our bodies. I personally wish Elana would use her web-site for recipes and not politics. We can all think for ourselves. This has been a real turn off for me.

      • Jay

        Why we get fat is just another diet book that another “in the know” author, professes to be the *one and only diet you’ll ever need*. In other words, it’s the same old same old, just like the many diet books that proceeded it that claimed they were the one and only.

        Its really quite amazing that people let themselves be suckered in by the latest diet craze so easily. Or, rush out to buy the latest “wonder” food/vitamin/drink/tea/juice they’ve heard about and just have to have.

        Next year another diet will become all the rage, as will another wonder food and this years will be forgotten, or set aside for later. It doesn’t change. Year after year people pay out hard earned money for diet books and wonder foods, hoping that will take care of thier problem/s but it never does. Heads up that people might need to take control themselves maybe?

        You might want to read a review on your why we get fat book.

        http://www.weightymatters.ca/2011/01/book-review-gary-taubes-why-we-get-fat.html

  78. Cindy Cundiff

    I used to be a cashier growing up in NY and I could’ve sworn soda and chips used to be taxable back then.

  79. sarah

    I think you are missing the point, not dictating to- but putting a tax on it. You can still make the choice to spend your money on this item. Which is a luxury item, it is not essential to good health. But if you can afford to buy that instead of or in addition to real food then a tax will not stop you. There are no healthful redeeming qualities for sodas, even people that drink them surely know that!

  80. Laurel

    I’m kind of amazed that the idea of increasing the price of soda by a few cents=THE GOVERNMENT IS IN MY KITCHEN TELLING ME WHAT TO EAT!!!
    Seriously, 3 cents a liter is going to give the government unmitigated power over our food choices?

    • Jay

      You’d rather the makers of soda pop and crap foods be in your kitchen telling you what to eat instead? Give your head a shake. Coke Pepsi, Kraft foods, Kelloggs, Hellmans, all of them, will do whatever to convince you the parent, that their products are safe and healthy for your family.

      Hate your government’s FDA all you want, but without them, without the food inspectors, the agriculural inspectors, the food scientists etc etc, you’d never know whats in that piece of food you’re about to eat, nor the liquid you’re about to drink, nor would you know about any imported food/products recalls.

      If you stop and think, your goverment is probably not too concerned about what foods you eat, it’s the amount of the foods the average American,(children especially) are eating, that’s more concerning.

      Do the math. The US is ranked #1 as having the highest rate of obesity in the world. A small tax on soda pop is just a drop in a very deep bucket at trying to improve that figure.

  81. Unfortunately, it’s a nibbled to death by a duck situation. Or the frog in the water. It’s not just this tax. It’s all the taxes, all the subsidies, all the policies. If we looked at them all at once it would shock most of us.

    Whether it’s fad diets (and diet books), or the latest conflicting studies, or whatever, the fact is we all have different views and preferences about food. Government policies, taxes, subsidies, etc. definitely have an impact and make some things cheaper, others more expensive. But it’s not necessarily good for anyone and certainly not good for everyone.

    Education is the key. As is personal responsibility.

  82. Elizabeth Gail Wieda

    No tax on soda, please, unless— the sugar and aspartame are replaced with stevia. Soda would not be as unhealthy as it is now if only the companies would remove the poison and replace with healthy sweeteners.
    We would not mind the tax if it were on a healthier drink.

  83. I wrote my thoughts on my own blog. I’m all for it.

  84. I haven’t read every remark, so I may be repeating someone.
    Vermont has been trying to pass a “soda tax” for the past 2 years. My soda consumption is just about zero, so it would not impact what I spend. As with cigarettes, I just don’t think it will keep those who are addicted to sugary drinks from buying them. I think education is the key, and sadly that education needs to start at home which is most likely where the root of the problem is anyway. I do think though, that No soft drink machines in schools is a very good idea.

  85. SunnyB @ andloveittoo @ andloveittoo.com

    Elana,

    My husband often notes how much more expensive it is for us to eat healthy foods than it is for us to eat junk. Subsidization to farmers has given government the opportunity to control and change the eating habits of the American public dramatically, and not for the better.

    As it is with tobacco products, it will take more than taxation to catapult the masses towards healthy eating habits. Taxation coupled with education is a more viable response. Should a portion of the taxes collected be put into healthy eating programs, improving school lunch programs, etc, then yes, I see this as a viable and worthwhile opportunity.

    Additionally, subsidization for farming needs to come to an end…in the very least needs to be cut. Too many farmers are being directed to stop growing fruits and vegetables all together, in effort to control food prices and encourage import/export of certain foods as a means of improving our relations with foreign countries. Too many farmers are growing foods they would not normally prefer to produce, and are not able to rotate crops according to the needs of their community or for the improvement of their soil.

    You and I know that locally grown, non-gmo/organic fruits and vegetables are truly what is best for our families and thereby, our community. It is only through educated decision making that we will be able to get the rest of the nation onboard with this reality (government included).

    Government intervention proved to be a catalyst to the current state of affairs; do I believe government intervention will bring the current state of affairs to an end? Probably not. But increasing the price of junk foods so they are more costly than (in the very least, an equivalent expense to) all-natural, unprocessed whole foods certainly could not hurt.

    Thanks, Elana.

  86. Carolyne

    The problem isn’t the pop. It is the funding of our agriculture system which is paying lots of money to be agrabusinesses who are growing the ingredients which go into products like soda pop. Let’s stop funding these food corps and start supporting farmers who are growing real food so that the real food isn’t so expensive.

    • Jay

      Wrong. Funding to farmers etc is not the only problem per se. The problem is the parents who willingly buy the soda pop, the chips, the multitude of junk food that’s available as an easy way out. No child needs to drink soda pop or eat bags of chips. It is not a crime if they don’t have access to them. If the child is brought up not having these so called “food” items in the home, the child will never miss them.

      Healthy foods, veggies and fruits, can always be found at reasonable prices when in season. If the tomatoes or fresh veggies are more costly because of being out of season, dump that fattening kraft dinner, the boxed pizza, or the canned whatever that’s in the grocery cart or basket, and choose the healthy foods. Join a food Co-Op if there’s one in your area. A few hours of volunter work each week in exchange for lower prices.

      Maybe I’m old school, but I’ve always cooked meals or baked from scratch, even working a full time job.
      Too many parents nowadays only want to deal with convenience foods, the frozen packaged ready to eat after a nuke in the micro, or a minute in the toaster, or dumped from a salad bag into a bowl. That kind of shopping (which in itself is expensive) & eating, is the norm for a good majority of families today, & that’s where the main problem lies.

  87. Lisa Fitzgerald

    I just read that soda is the number one source of calories for Americans. That is messed up. Tax it.

  88. kimmyc

    Why not consider restricting foods that can be purchased with food stamps. No soda, no chips, no cake. Limited amounts of crackers, cookies. They can set specifics just like they do with the WIC program. Stop the soda and chips purchased with our tax dollars via food stamps. Let the government first get its house in order and work with the programs they fund. When that works then let’s have a discussion in the open. I am not for government telling me what to eat. I do think that ag subsidies should be distributed differently. Why does corn recieve such a large portion? Yes subsidize veggies and fruits. Open up the water in California. We need some common sense in government.

  89. Pia

    In Norway, we do have sugar taxes. Not just on sodas, but everything with a lot of suger has extra taxes. We also have very high alcohol taxes. And – it works! People need to think twice before buying a chocolate bar, it’s less expensive to buy a banana and an apple. We also have less alcoholics in Norway (and Sweden), than in our neighboring countries like Finland and Denmark who have very cheap and always available alcohol. We also have a grocery store who has cut away the taxes on fruit and vegetables to make the state see that we shouldn’t have taxes on those products.

    On the other hand, Norwegians are very positive, or at least have acceptance, towards state interference on this level. We’re a social democracy (misunderstood by many Americans to be socialism or even communism) and I think all Norwegians are very satisfied with this system. We pay high taxes, sure, but we get free medical care and a lot of security. Even if we loose our jobs, we receive enough money to live a normal life. I think we agree that as long as the state pays our medical bills, they’re allowed to make it harder for us to make our self sick.

    I think the soda taxes is a great idea, but I know that a lot of Americans will see this as a interference on their freedom.

  90. Patti

    I like this soda-tax idea. Of course, we could just quit subsidizing cropsand alll agricultural products (especially corn that gets made into high fructose syrup) and then we might have a better idea and easier choice about good food.

  91. Diana

    He does make compelling arguments I agree. However I still say NO WAY! It is not the governments job to mandate these things, tax them, and continually argue over how to spend it. And even if it is designated to be positive spending we know that is not what they do with all of it!

    My next thought is the fact that people on food stamps and public assistance, who do not pay taxes on their food, would go right on buying the SAD food. Which would go right on contributing to the expenses we are trying to change, and we’re paying for that too!

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