September 10, 2007 2:03PM

Nanny‐​State Food Police Run Amok in Los Angeles

In an effort that probably is facilitated by behind‐​the‐​scenes payments from already‐​established restaurants seeking to stifle competition, the LA City Council is looking to ban new fast‐​food restaurants in some neighborhoods. An article in the LA Times explains that state politicians already are micro‐​managing school menus, while a Republican member of Congress – seeking to out‐​do Democrats in concocting new responsibilities for the federal government – actually has a bill that somehow would seek to make nutritious foods more available to poor people:

Los Angeles officials, among others around the country, are proposing to limit new fast‐​food restaurants — a tactic that could be called health zoning. The City Council will be asked this fall to consider an up to two‐​year moratorium on new fast‐​food restaurants in South L.A., a part of the city where fast food is at least as much a practicality as a preference. …”

While limiting fast‐​food restaurants isn’t a solution in itself, it’s an important piece of the puzzle,” said Mark Vallianatos, director of the Center for Food and Justice at Occidental College. This is “bringing health policy and environmental policy together with land‐​use planning,” he said. “I think that’s smart, and it’s the wave of the future.” …

A California law banning sugary drinks and limiting the fat and sugar content of foods sold in middle and high schools took effect in July. And the state enacted legislation last year to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables to be sold in corner stores in lower‐​income communities. Rep. Mary Bono (R‐​Palm Springs) introduced a bill in Congress in June that, among other things, would try to increase the availability of nutritious foods in economically depressed areas.