What Causes Childhood Obesity And Is Worse Than Marijuana?
Eating food that come straight out of the back of a truck is heavenly. Seriously. Korean barbeque quesadillas, classic Los Angeles street tacos, lobster cut rolls and more delicious delicacies are prepared fresh in a mini-kitchen that’s smaller than my dorm room. More affordable than a gourmet restaurant and not as unhealthy as fast food dollar menu items, those concoctions are a local indulgence for this California girl, and I’m more than happy to support a little culinary creativity while getting some serious bang for my buck.
Some things food truck menus are not: responsible for childhood obesity or more dangerous than marijuana. Yes, both have been suggested recently and, if a new piece of legislature is passed, may soon be acknowledged as true.
California Assemblyman William Monning argues that though some food trucks are trendy and social media savvy and profiled on Food Network television shows, most of the ones on the road “are contributing to an epidemic of childhood obesity on California school campuses by supplying youngsters with greasy burgers, sodas and high-calorie ice cream,” according to the LA Times. Therefore, the only logical solution to the great issue of childhood obesity is to ban all food trucks and pushcarts from within 1,500 feet of schools during daytime hours on weekdays. (At this time, marijuana dispensaries must only be 600 feet from schools in California, which insinuates that a hot dog is more deadly to a child than a play date with Mary Jane.)
The problem isn’t just that AB 1678 would triple the current limit of 500 feet in Los Angeles. What concerns me is that in many other cities, this would create a new blackout zone for food trucks — as much as 80% of streets in some places — and may snowball lawmakers nationwide to address these rolling restaurants altogether. College girls would have to unfollow the Twitter accounts of their favorite mobile cupcakeries and forgo the craving for greasy street food after a long night of dancing/burning off a ton of calories. Food trucks aren’t just a California thing or an NYC trademark; they’ve been setting up shop at remote construction sites and office buildings for years and are making their way into smaller towns across the nation. And their healthy ingredients and trendy menus are improving across the board and becoming part of our culture.
Not the part that’s making American kids fat, though. After genetics, lack of exercise and whatever parents are putting on the table for mealtimes, childhood obesity is more likely to be encouraged by the sodas that used to be sold in school vending machines and the unhealthy foods offered in the cafeterias — two changes brought on by the California Food Policy Advocates, the same group who thought up this anti-food truck madness. Since these previous measures have already been taken, it’s more than likely that Monning’s measure will pass in order to “protect the kids,” and shaved ice on wheels on a weekday afternoon will be a thing of the past.
I hate to disappoint you, Monning, but telling all food trucks to park their loads elsewhere isn’t going to slim down the kids of America. In fact, I don’t think it’ll even make a dent in all that eventual cellulite. Because creating a virtual no-go zone for both gourmet and greasy food trucks — as in Carmel, where you hail from — won’t stop a hungry child from spending their money on fattening foods elsewhere. Like in places that don’t have the option of relocating on a whim, as Matt Geller, chief executive of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, explained:
“This bill won’t do anything to cut children’s access to unhealthy food,” Geller said. “They won’t eat at the food trucks, but they are going to eat at the McDonald’s nearby. They are going to eat at the convenience store, the gas station.”
Besides, why do children even have the option to leave their campuses and buy sugary snacks from food trucks or push carts? Rather than passing a law that prevents everyone who is old enough to understand how to read a nutrition facts label from grabbing a faster and healthier bite during lunch hour, it’d probably be much easier — and more profitable for the economically struggling state — to simply double-check that schools are watching their kids’ activity during recess and after school, and making sure that they aren’t leaving school grounds in general. You know, to buy pot from the store that’s only 600 feet away.
AB 1678 will be up for debate later this month, and Monning says that he’s open to tweaking his proposal to a certain extent. So this is a legitimate excuse to stock up on vegan wraps, fusion burritos and all your favorite treats from those ice cream trucks — just in case.
Should Monning’s legislature be passed in order to protect children’s health? Or is Monning just completely out of his mind?
Ashley is a UC San Diego grad who is holding on way too tightly to a potential career in magazines and goes to Vegas all too often. She’s fascinated with celebrities and strawberry beer and doubles as a pathological texter/emailer/blogger. Feed the addiction with tweets @cashleelee. Thanks in advance.