New Ban On Fast-Food: Helpful or Harmful?

This just in from the "You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me" department: the Los Angeles City Council just passed a bill on Tuesday enforcing a moratorium – or ban – on new fast-food establishments opening for at least one year. From the NY Sun:

"The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to put a one-year moratorium on new fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles, where the council said such eateries are numerous and the rate of obesity is above average for the city. The area is also one of the city’s poorest. The mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, must approve the ordinance for it to become law."

And now of course, New York wants to jump on the bandwagon and is trying to gain support for a similar ban. Council member and representative of Queens, Eric Gioia, said this in a statement regarding the issue:

"People are literally being poisoned by their diets — LA’s idea deserves serious consideration as we look for holistic solutions to a serious problem. A moratorium may help stem the problem."

First off I don’t think that "holistic" and "fast-food" go so well together. In any case, this seems like yet another excuse for the government to impede on our lives as if we’re not capable of making our own decisions. Do a lot of people choose to eat poorly? Yes. Should more obese people consider a healthy diet and exercise? Yes. But unfortunately this problem is like smoking; people will stop when they want to and you can’t force them. I for one eat Taco Bell once a week and there are only two or three of them in all of Manhattan, but I’ll go the distance for my tacos.

Another reason I’m not liking this idea is money. The economy is so bad right now, and they want to try to stop fast-food chains from opening in order to help people? I just went food shopping the other day and paid $2.50 for one friggin avocado. $2.50!! That can get you a McChicken and small fries from the dollar menu at McD’s for 590 calories; a jr. bacon cheeseburger and baked potato (or small fries) at Wendy’s for 620 calories; and thanks to Taco Bell’s new 79-89-99 cent "Why Pay More?" menu, you can get a crunchy taco, a cheese roll up and cinnamon twists for 540 calories. So for the price of an avocado, a lemon and two onions you could probably feed three people an entire meal. Plus if you choose the somewhat healthier items (like Taco Bell’s fresco menu and nix the mayo on your burger at Wendy’s), you won’t pack on too much and you’ll be saving a few bucks. Not everyone can afford fresh produce all the time.

Now I’m not saying that something shouldn’t be done about the ever-rising obesity problem in the US, but I don’t think this is the answer. Stopping fast-food chains from popping up will only make people travel further to get to them. It’s really just about the choices we make. Take Jared from Subway for example – if he had done his 2-mile hike to Subway every day to get the meatball sub or the philly cheese-steak combo, he would essentially be traveling the long way to go up a waist-size. So instead of helping the problem, this ban might just be feeding it…no pun intended.


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