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Fascinating piece this morning in the New York Times about the food culture that is evolving in New York City – not in the dining rooms and kitchens of its restaurants, but in the halls of government, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to be taking a far more aggressive approach to food policy than any of his predecessors, or even his opposite numbers in other cities and towns across the country.

“From a policy perspective, Mr. Bloomberg has taken on more food issues, and provoked more controversy, than any New York mayor before him,” the Times writes. “As a result, he has the potential to change the way more New Yorkers eat — whether in the haughtiest dining rooms or the poorest home kitchens — than all the city’s food activists and restaurant critics combined.”

The Times notes that “the mayor’s raucous takeover of the public school system in 2002 led to a culinary bonus for the city’s 1.1 million school children. They now have an executive chef, whole wheat bread, salad bars and little plastic bags of sliced New York state apples. Even before the very public rat infestations and a string of high-profile closings, health inspectors were already making about 15,000 more restaurants visits annually than they did four years ago. In January and February, the health department closed 147 restaurants, double the number for the same two months last year.

“And the Mayor has now turned his attention to hunger and poverty, working with the City Council to get more people to sign up for food stamps and looking with renewed vigor at how to get healthy food to people who live in neighborhoods with no grocery stores.”
KC's View:
There remains some question, according to the Times, about whether Bloomberg is driving change, or simply responding to cultural changes that already were taking place on a national level.

But we don’t think it matters.

We’re not sure about such things as trans fat bans, but we do think that a greater public policy consciousness about such issues is necessary. There will be missteps, and times when government will go too far.

But if we don’t pay attention to these issues, then our population will just get fatter and more out of shape and lose its ability to function in a vibrant, vital way.