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The recent Capital article entitled “The Kirsten Gillibrand Diet, revealed!” appears innocuous and apolitical. As this is a menial personal epithet, it would seem to fall clearly outside the reach of government activism. Think again.
According to Food Safety News:
“Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) introduced legislation to combat 'food deserts' prevalent throughout urban and rural communities across the United States.
A food desert is a large and isolated geographic area where mainstream grocery stores and access to fresh produce are absent or distant. The legislation would invest $1 billion through loans and grants to help build approximately 2,100 new grocery stores in high need areas across the country.”
Of course healthy eating is a lifestyle choice that would combat obesity and lead to healthier Americans. Gillibrand is going well beyond attempting to properly educate people- she intends to control their personal preferences.
The question becomes why do these “food deserts” exist? Gillibrand and others like First Lady Michelle Obama are using their high-profile status to publicize the existence of large areas where a grocery store would face no competition. If this untapped market has so much potential, wouldn’t someone, be it a supermarket powerhouse like Safeway or even a local entrepreneur with a fruit stand, pounce on the opportunity?
The truth is that the private sector is unwilling to invest in these areas because they believe it will fail. Fresh fruit and healthy food costs significantly more than fast food. It demands additional personal discipline to eat well and allocate the resources to buy higher quality food. Gillibrand herself deems buying her favorite food, raspberries, a “splurge,” and she is in the top 5% of income earners in our country.
I am sure Gillibrand fancies that through her “food desert” bill, food oases will spring forth. In truth, the solution to the “desertification” of cities is simple, increased demand for healthier foods would prompt the market to respond with greater access.
The “food desert” bill plans to override the personal preferences of American by using one billion dollars of their own money to entice them to eat healthier. The people of New York elected Gillibrand to represent them, not to parent them.
Gillibrand successfully dieted through the power of her own decisions; it did not take a “dessert desert” initiative to rid the Senate cafeteria of unhealthy options. The Senator should be commended for her personal success in health, but does she think that her constituents don’t have the same capability of will as she? That they need her intervention to lead a better life?