Restaurant Madness: NY bans sugar drinks, what’s next?
March 12, 2013 is the day that the New York City ban on the over 16 ounce sugar-sweetened soda is to take effect. It will probably be just another day in New York City, but if the ban takes place, it will be a huge monetary loss to food service business owners who will have to bear the loss of revenue as well as the added expense of such things as changing the size of glassware, reprinting menus and revising advertising copy. The National Restaurant Association, a voice of the food service professional, joined other organizations that sued to block the ban, claiming it unfairly targeted food service establishments by exempting the ban for convenience stores and grocery stores. But, unless someone in the judicial branch steps in, Mayor Bloomberg will have his way and sadly, food service operators will have to bear the loss.
Although no one disagrees with the idea that less added sugar in the diets of Americans is a good thing, is it really the Mayor of New York who should decide what a restaurant, deli, sports concession stand, movie theater, food cart or street vendor should serve to its customers? If a government official can limit the serving size of soda in my establishment, the possibility exists that a government official can limit how many calories I can serve in a dinner entree or how many ounces of pasta I can plate. What’s next—menu approval? Americans are raised on sugar starting with baby formula, then refined grain products in the form of sandwich bread and pasta, followed by prepackaged foods with more sugar, more refined grains and high fructose corn syrup, energy drinks, sweetened fruit juices, baked goods, pizza, sweet tea and soda. Banning large size soda isn’t going to put a dent in America’s love affair with sugar.
But, I think both sides are missing the point. By arguing the merits of its affect on obesity they are missing the bigger picture. The debate should not be over the benefits of the ban, nor the monetary loss to the food service industry. The debate should be over legality, the constitutionality of the ban itself. Although I am a strong advocate of ridding America of all added sugar, my position is this. There is nothing more important to the sustainability of life than the food we feed ourselves. NO ONE should make that choice for us. If we allow this ban to take effect, what’s next? At some point, we may find ourselves shopping at the Agway for USDA approved human food right between the dog chow and bird seed. And, by the way, Mr. Bloomberg, why don’t you call the related penalty what it really is, according to the Supreme Court—it’s a tax!
Buon Appetito e Buona Salute, Chef Angela Bell
Beyond the Bull (an “eat smart” kitchen)
233 W. Main St., Central, SC 29630
This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.