Slate’s Will Saletan on the fast food ban in L.A.:
A fellow council member explains: “The over concentration of fast food restaurants in conjunction with the lack of grocery stores places these communities in a poor situation to locate a variety of food and fresh food.” Supporters of the moratorium call this state of affairs “food apartheid.”
It’s an odd slogan. As the encyclopedia Africana notes, apartheid was a racially discriminatory policy “enforced by white minority governments.” Opening a McDonald’s in South-Central L.A. is not government-enforced racial discrimination. But telling McDonald’s it can open franchises only in the white part of town—what do you call that?
And what about the argument that people in South-Central need the government to block unhealthy food options because they’re “in a poor situation” to locate better choices? This is the argument normally made for restricting children’s food options at school—that they’re more dependent and vulnerable than the rest of us. How do you feel about treating poor people like children?
The council says they want grocery stores instead of fast food. But only the right kind of grocery stores. Big stores that utilize the economies of scale–that is, the only types of stores that could make fresh produce in low income areas profitable–are off limits in the big city. Maybe we should just let the government handle all of the food distribution in low-income areas.
Here’s the most depressing part of Saletan’s piece:
Already, the majority leader of New York’s city council wants to adopt food zoning, and several cities have phoned L.A.’s planning department to request copies of the ordinance.