January 14, 2011

Vancouver Shifts Homicide Squad to Broccoli Patrol

No, they haven't moved April Fool's Day to January, unfortunately. Yet that was my first impression when I read the front-page headline in today's Vancouver Sun. No, it's not the same as my headline for this post, but if things progress further, mine may well appear in the paper soon.

The story that had me not knowing whether to laugh or cry was: Canadian first: Nutrition rules for street food. Apparently "Vancouver is about to become the first city in Canada - and quite possibly North America - to apply minimum standards for what it considers wholesome, nutritious food that can be bought on the street." Further into the story a city councillor is quoted as saying she "sees nothing wrong with the city acting as Big Mother."

Thankfully, I'm not a Vancouver taxpayer, I live next door in Burnaby. But if I were a Vancouver taxpayer, I'd get my laughing and crying done right quick, and move directly into the mad-as-hell stage.

How idiotic is this? Let me count a few of the ways:

  • What happened to personal freedom  of choice and responsibility?
  • For decades municipalities have been moaning and groaning about higher levels of government "downloading" functions on cities with no accompanying funding. Yet here's Vancouver taking on the roles of federal departments and agencies in charge of food safety and regulation, and provincial healthcare.
  • How about enforcement? The story says "if vendors want to throw on some healthy extras like vegetables, fruits -- even sauerkraut -- that balance out that cholesterol-laden gourmet beef patty or other high-fat food, they may just get past the city's food police." Where are the enforcement resources going to come from?
  • What about the consumer? Will I be ticketed if I scarf the chilli cheese dog but dump the side of broccoli into the trash? I predict this will result in huge food wastage.

Does this lead to a future in which our toilets are going to analyze our excrement to ensure we are consuming balanced diets and automatically send that data to government databases? It's an, er, slippery slope. . .

Posted by Paul at January 14, 2011 01:50 PM