I feel as if I need to respond to the proposed ban on Happy Meal toys in Santa Clara County (see the LA Times article here: http://bit.ly/cuGx13). I wonder if the government has the right to enforce nutritional standards on a business, and therefore on patrons who frequent that business. I certainly don’t champion high calorie meals on a daily basis, but I really feel it’s at the discretion of the consumer/parent to determine what is best for his/her child/self.
When I was a child, going to McDonald’s was a rare treat. If I was lucky enough to get a Happy Meal, I rejoiced at the sight of the new toy. I also remember the meals being filling and satisfying. (Little kid, little stomach). Besides, if you wanted a different treat, you’d only want to go once a week anyway, or you’d end up with the same one repeatedly. Not that we even went nearly that often—I’d say less than once a month, if that.
As such, who is this really targeting? Is it McDonald’s, a company which, in our free society, really has the right to market whatever food and (safe, non-toxic) toys they like? Is it a slap on the wrist for the consumer, who is being deprived of the choice of food for their children? Does this mean those who don’t choose healthily will be frowned upon? I believe that the government has the right to impose standards for safety purposes on our food. They should certainly track the process from farm to plastic plate/paper wrapping if they can, and of course ameliorate food processing whenever possible.
But I don’t think the government has the right to mandate food choices. Good parents, I believe, will ensure that their children eat a variety of nutritious foods. And if they want to take their children to McDonald’s now and then for a treat, let them. As for me, I may go pick up a Happy Meal today.