Local and County News

The Food Police…

<<< Multnomah County Food Police:  Show Us Your Papers >>>

By Victoria Taft  —  OregonWatchdog.com  –  January 5, 2012…

One year ago this month the Multnomah County Commission passed its Food Action Plan. The move set in motion plans to make food a “right” and bring “food equality” to the masses. Now the food police are monitoring stores in “food deserts” to make sure they’re selling government approved food.

This document laid out a plan to install Food Corps Officers in public schools (paid “volunteers”), expressed hopes to extinguish “unhealthy” food from the county, and set up government run “food hubs” which would act as a government store of food in “food deserts.” More gardens and a seed library were a couple of the good ideas in the plan, but mostly the plan was and continues to be an aspirational document which will be used to pass any number of intrusive measures in much the same way that the 2009 Climate Action Plan was used as an excuse to ban bags, raise fees for cars and create more bike paths. Don’t bother looking for those items in the Climate Action Plan, they’re not there.

Multnomah County’s Food Action Plan has now taken a giant leap forward–to coin a phrase–by working with the Feds to pay store owners to stock government approved food and then check on them to make sure they ordered the food and sold it.  I repeat: The government is paying shop owners to stock government approved food and checking their books to make sure they ordered the food and sold it.

We read in Willamette Week here:

County officials advise store owners which foods to stock and where to buy them wholesale, and give them red apple-shaped labels to identify healthy foods.   And to make sure stores are complying with the government The county plans to first track stores’ inventories—whether they’re ordering more healthy products—and then survey store owners and customers.  There’s no word on what happens if the store stops stocking the government approved “healthy” foods.

The alt weekly says this may be the only way to measure how well the plan is working: The county is focusing on what the stores sell and stock, but not customers’ buying habits. …[T]he county has no evidence the program is working. Nor has it come up with a way to measure how—if at all—these subsidies are changing the way people shop and eat.  The government is paying stores to supply food the public wasn’t demanding.

Surprisingly, WW asks about this and here is the predictable response:

Sonia Manhas, manager of community wellness and prevention for the Multnomah County Health Department, says the county is trying to create demand for healthier foods by offering customers a wider variety of choices—the opposite of how sales tend to work. “Is this something the county can be in the business of doing for a long period of time? Well, no,” Manhas says.  But they’ll try to keep their government jobs as long as possible


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