Editorial: Resist the deep-fried foolishness of our ag commissioner

header-hoover-institution-fellows1-1Editorial, Dallas Morning News 

SID_MILLER
Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller declared “amnesty” for cupcakes in Texas schools after he took office in January. Now he wants to bring back soda machines and deep-fat fryers.

The problem with our schools these days is that they aren’t doing enough to celebrate and ensure our kids’ freedom.

Instead of all that time sitting in front of chalkboards and computer screens, schoolchildren should have the choice to run hog-wild in the hallways. It’s the American way, after all, to do as we choose.

Wait a second, you say. If we give kids the choice between sitting in class and running through the halls, they might just choose the run-around option every time and not get the education they need.

That’s a reasonable concern.

So let’s take this argument out of the classroom and into the cafeteria.

Texas’ new agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller, is on what he considers a conservative push to roll back 10 years of state nutrition policy that took soda machines and deep-fat fryers out of schools. Come Thursday, Miller will decide whether to return deep-fat fryers to schools, bring back soda machines and increase the number of days schools can sell sugary and salty snacks to raise money.

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Given his posture to date, it’s pretty clear what Miller’s decision will be.

“Michelle Obama and liberal do-gooder friends don’t like this, but they just don’t understand. This isn’t about french fries — it’s about freedom,” Miller wrote on his Facebook page last week.

Actually, it’s about the health of Texas schoolchildren and recognizing that if you give a child a choice between water and Coke, the kid is going to pick Coke every time. If you offer french fries or apple slices, the fries will be the winner. That’s why a lot of moms and dads don’t keep Coke in the house.

For the last decade, and long before most of us knew the name Michelle Obama, Texas has had stricter standards for what we feed our schoolchildren than the federal government. In other words, Texans decided that we needed to do a better job of ensuring that healthy lunches were served at schools.

This came in an era when cash-strapped school districts were striking questionable deals with soda companies eager for a captive young market.

Thankfully, there’s only so much harm Miller can do. Even if he rolls backs Texas’ standards, federal rules will prevent sugar-rich sodas from returning to schools. Some carbonated beverages, including diet sodas and flavored waters, would be allowed.

Former Republican Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, hardly a left-winger, has publicly urged Miller not to go through with his rollback plans.

This isn’t about freedom. Parents can feed their children anything they want. When we get out of school, we can stuff ourselves with Big Macs and Big Gulps until our hearts burst with happiness.

The state doesn’t need to be in business with soda companies, and it doesn’t need to be offering kids unhealthy foods that they will always choose over better options.

That’s not freedom. It’s foolishness.

Make your voice heard

Let Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller know that you do not want him to roll back nutrition guidelines in schools, returning deep-fat fryers, bringing back soda machines and increasing the number of days schools can sell sugary and salty snacks to raise money.

Email: Customer.Relations@TexasAgriculture.gov

Tweet: @MillerForTexas

Call: 1-800-835-5832

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