I have always had little patience with the political moralization of individual people’s eating habits for exactly the reasons The Fat Nutritionist recently addressed here and here. Undeniably, the United States is a sick puppy with regard to (among other things) our relationship to food, our understanding of it, our production and consumption of it. But the disease is not stupidity; it’s capitalism and poverty.
Oh, and some stupidity. But not on the part of consumers—on the part of legislators who get the scary zeal in their blood at the prospect of using taxes as a punishment for immoral consumption. (Did you hear about the recent anti-salt bill entertained in the New York Senate? Do these people not EAT FOOD? Do they not know how it WORKS?) Taxes kind of suck to pay but paying them should be part of your civic responsibility, not penance for personal choices. Jesus god, people. Usually I groan and take comfort in the inevitable announcement that some evil, delicious food item has been temporarily vindicated by Science. Today, however, I cannot be silent. THEY ARE GOING AFTER MY PIZZA.
Seriously, people. PIZZA has been declared the new enemy. DELICIOUS PIZZA. If ever you should feel the clammy presence of truly un-American forces at work, now is the time. From Serious Eats:
Science Daily recently reported that researchers have recommended the use of surcharges (taxes and fees) on unhealthy food items like pizza and soda to help offset the nearly $150 billion a year the U.S. government spends on health care issues related to obesity.
Doctors Mitchell H. Katz and Rajiv Bhatia published an article titled "Food Surcharges and Subsidies: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" on Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The two suggest that raising the cost of or specially taxing food items that are high in saturated fats and sugar will have consumers thinking twice before making unhealthy meal choices. Their recommendation is an 18% tax on such items.
On a $2.75 slice (an average price point for slices in NYC), that would translate to a 50¢ surcharge. On a large pepperoni pizza from Domino’s ($13.05), that’s an extra $2.35.
This tax would be similar to the cigarette tax that some states have in place in an attempt to reduce smoking.
NO. Pizza is not the problem, Mr. Doctor Men. Charging people one million dollars for pizza will not make them healthier. It will make them poorer. And even less able to eat, like, vegetables, which I don’t know if you’ve noticed but cost like a trillion dollars in most places in the US. In Arkansas, where I lived until recently? They tax groceries. No tax on inherited estates, but a tax on milk and bananas. A real solution might be fixing the epically broken system of American agricultural subsidies, don’t you think? Rather than taxing the people who necessarily subsist on the crappy food we overproduce? Maybe?
I mean, if you hate poor people and you think being fat is evil and being unhealthy is a moral failure, fine, WHATEVER. I have no time for you. But in the midst of your sanctimony, stop subsidizing corn and beef, start subsidizing salad, and keep your goddamn laws off my pizza.
My friend Sheyda made us a t-shirt. You can order yours here.
P.S. It is possible I would support a law requiring Canadians to make good pizza. But Canada is a whole different ballgame called hockey.