Special interests pull strings on government diet rules
Please visit my Facebook Notes section to see two articles that provide further information on this subject:
1. Diet mentioned in my Tennessean guest editorial.
2. The Diet.
I also wrote a 2007 blog post on the subject located here.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule on nutrition standards for school lunches funded by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The bill’s been criticized for expanding schools’ responsibility for outcomes while providing only 6 cents extra per child per meal to accomplish goals.
I have a personal interest in good nutrition for children. At age 3, my son was diagnosed with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.
We were told there was no cure but that when he was old enough (6) he could be treated with Ritalin. Giving Ritalin to a 6-year-old was unacceptable to me. My research led me to the Feingold Diet; primarily, avoidance of synthetic food additives.
After just three days of strict adherence to the diet, I had a normal little boy. He never needed Ritalin. He excelled in school, graduating with honors. Today, he serves in the Tennessee Air Guard — something, had we used Ritalin, he could not do.
After achieving success in their alternative school, an entire school district in Wisconsin is using a similar diet. And Chefs as Parents, a Washington-based nonprofit organization dedicated to serving freshly prepared, additive-free whole foods in schools, is successfully going well beyond federal minimum standards.
Although thousands of families have found help, similar dietary solutions are neither recommended by the government nor part of the USDA’s new rules.
As the former chairman of the House Government Operations Committee — the committee in the Tennessee Legislature that approves rules — I can tell you that rules are developed by consensus; that means there is great influence from special interests.
Sometimes that is good, sometimes bad; how should we view these rules?
No basis for federal authority
Constitutionally, the feds typically cite the General Welfare Clause as authority to produce such rules, but the clause really only applies to the general welfare of the nation within the confines of the federal government’s 30 enumerated powers — there is no authority over school lunches.
As a states’-rights issue, states alone have police powers over behavior; but even then, only over behavior that infringes on the constitutional rights of others. But let’s be real: Federal money comes with strings. School-lunch funding is no exception.
What of objectivity? Do we trust that the USDA’s directive is truly objective — free of Washington special-interest influence?
Parents, school districts and organizations are taking action — avoiding FDA-approved synthetic food additives, which were initially approved with the good intention of extending the shelf-life of the food supply.
But the ancillary effect is that whole, fresh, vital foods have been supplanted by an overwhelming array of highly processed, chemical-laden, nutrient-poor foods, high in refined sugars and carbohydrates. They’re cheaper, quicker and easier to serve, and abundant but unfortunately, they produce obesity, poor health and problem behavior.
Clearly, America is suffering from a health/nutrition problem. But solutions to most social problems are not typically found in government rule-making sessions manipulated by special interests but rather in the hearts, minds and homes of the American people. It’s called a movement — try it on.
Susan Lynn is a former Tennessee state representative. She invites readers to view her Facebook notes for more information on the diet mentioned in this guest editorial.