If there’s one city that has a special place in my heart, its San Francisco. I’ll be honest. I’m partial to places known for their high levels of hippies and military men (and, apparently, naked men, but that’s neither here nor there.) People who “knoooow” what it is right, and are adamant about helping everyone else see it. I get it.

Check the story I saw on Fooducate:

Under an executive order from Mayor Gavin Newsom, Coke, Pepsi and Fanta Orange are no longer allowed in vending machines on city property, although their diet counterparts are – up to a point.

Newsom’s directive, issued in April but whose practical impacts are starting to be felt now, bars calorically sweetened beverages from vending machines on city property.

That includes non-diet sodas, sports drinks and artificially sweetened water. Juice must be 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice with no added sweeteners. Diet sodas can be no more than 25 percent of the items offered, the directive says.


The mayor’s administration points to studies linking soda to obesity, including a UCLA one released last year that found adults who drink at least one soft drink a day are 27 percent more likely to be obese than those who don’t, and that soda consumption is fueling the state’s $41 billion annual obesity problem. The study also found that 41 percent of children and 62 percent of teens drink at least one soda daily.

“There’s a direct link between what people eat and drink and the obesity and health care crises in this country,” Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said. “It’s entirely appropriate and not at all intrusive for city government to take steps to discourage the sale of sugary sodas on city property.”


“This is not about the soda police or a crackdown on soda,” Winnicker said. “People absolutely remain free to choose to drink unhealthy sugary sodas anywhere they want.”

Selling them is another matter.

While the mayor’s order contains exceptions for vending machines covered under already negotiated contracts, it directs department heads to have new contracts conform to the new standards. – [source: Sugary Drink Ban Starts To Affect S.F. Sites]

Again, I get it. And as someone who hasn’t had a sip of soda in almost 18 months, I see where they’re coming from. The city absolutely does not have to sell anything on government property that doesn’t fall in line with their policies… or the Mayor’s beliefs.

Something about the entire thing just makes me cringe a little bit. I won’t lie. I cringe at the thought of being held to someone else’s nutrition standard, especially when it’s highly unlikely that they’ve got a sound grasp on this nutrition thing…. like, well, the government.

Take this for example:

What can I say about San Francisco’s ban on vending machines for sugared soft drinks on city property?

I could say that a twelve ounce can of Coca-Cola has fewer calories than twelve ounces of whole milk, because it does — 140 to 216.

I could say that you’ll be even fatter if you substitute whole milk for Coke, ounce for ounce, because you will be.

I could say that the extra nutrients in milk don’t do anything to make it less fattening, because they don’t.

I could say that 12 ounces of soy milk has 198 calories, which is still well above Coke’s 140.

I could even say that switching to skim milk doesn’t help you all that much — if you do the math, you’ll find that there are 124.5 calories in 12oz of skim milk, compared, again, to 140 for Coke.

I could also point out that a tall Starbucks Frappuccino — also 12 ounces, and not covered by the ban — has 190 calories, largely from sugar and fat.

I could ask: Does anyone ever order a plain Frappuccino? A tall mocha Frappuccino has 220 calories.

Finally, I could point out that banning vending-machine drinks while leaving Starbucks untouched is a pretty rank example of class privilege at work — my indulgences are sophisticated and upper-class, while yours are vulgar and prole. – [source: The Calorie Police]

As someone who drinks neither milk nor soft drinks nor Starbucks, I’ma put it to you like this: the fact that someone can reduce this to an issue of calories; the fact that someone thinks that the most important concern regarding a food item is calories, and that that is what’s fueling the Mayor’s legislation (or that this was even the foundation of the UCLA study) furrrrrrrther lets me know that the Mayor’s efforts (or the efforts of any politician) need to be centered around educating the public, not doing it for them.

The bolded, however, is intriguing to me. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that this smells a little like class privilege, with a giant “but” attached to the end: I don’t think it is intended to be class privilege, but it is absolutely an unintended consequence. If someone were to try to expand his legislation beyond city property, it would definitely – at this point in time – affect lower class families much more than anyone else… another issue that deserves more of the good Mayor’s time than this.

But imagine if Mayor Newsome were as unenlightened as the fella calling him the calorie police? Believing that “the extra nutrients in milk don’t make it less fattening,” and believing that this is a logical argument? Good grief. Any clean eater knows that 500 calories of broccoli – a wholly nutritious food item – looks very different from 500 calories of cheesecake. You’re not going to be able to get 500 calories worth of broccoli down. 500 calories worth of broccoli isn’t going to leave you nutritionally deficient, either. If the Mayor followed this fail-filled logic? We’d be reducing ourselves to unhealthy foods simply because the calorie counts are low.

To me, it’s another band aid on a bullet wound situation – so, instead of teaching people why soft drinks are such a serious issue… we’re simply going to do what we can to restrict their access to them?

Maybe I just have more faith in humanity – I’m too much of a hippie in the sense that I believe people do better when they know better. (I believe this site is proof of such.) Maybe I simply find it laughable that a branch of government would rather make the “rules” for people instead of putting forth the efforts to teach people why they should adopt this “rule” on their own. And while San Fran isn’t going so far as, say, a New York might’ve tried to go, I still find it interesting that concerned politicians take this route instead of something else. Anything else.

I know this is a lot of writing all about a simple choice that the government made (that is well within their rights), but I’m just tired of politicians trying to do it for us (make us give up our vices without educating us why we should leave them behind) instead of teaching us how to do it ourselves (live healthily.) That’s why we are where we are today, but I digress.

What say you? Are you down with the ban? Think it’s too much? Let me hear what you’re thinkin’!