Marion Nestle writing at The Atlantic continues to try and widen the food regulation Overton window. The target this time is portion sizes:
For a long time, I’ve wanted restaurant owners to give a price break for smaller portions. No luck. They say this would put them out of business. We need to make it easier for people to choose smaller portions, which means changes in public policy.
Does this mean subsidies for smaller portions? A government agency to regulate prices for relative portion sizes? A small plate mandate? Whatever Marion has is mind, it is a terrible idea.
Notice the familiar tactic of trying to sell this is more “choice”. Who doesn’t love more choice? It’s pro-freedom!
There appears to be no dimension of food that the government shouldn’t be regulating. This apparently includes a food’s color, the amount of salt or sugar, how it is advertised, what goes on the box, and now the portion size. Can’t we skip all this piecemeal regulation and just create a new government agency that must approve all foods before they can be sold? Let’s place Marion in charge, or at least put her in charge of the restaurant menu approval division.
This is becoming difficult to parody. Perhaps it would be easier to parody if I could sample more paternalist writings, but there are so many paternalists and their writings can often be too long. What we need is a government mandate for writers to provide a shorter version of every article they write. Studies have shown people are more willing to read one paragraph of regulatory overreach than several paragraphs of it. And after all, it will improve consumer choice.