You pretty much have to assume all of the above to be true since NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has deemed one of the hottest issues in town to be large-sized sodas and their effect on residents’ well-being. Reports indicate the mayor is determined to ban any sugary drink larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theaters, and street carts.
That would include several of the products manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company. And when you’re from Atlanta, anytime someone messes with The Coca-Cola Company, “Them’s fightin’ words.” Ever since its inception well over 100 years ago, the beverage giant has been one of the biggest benefactors the city has ever known. Not too many civic projects ever get completed without sponsorship from the Coke organization.
The mayor seems to think that sugary drinks are among the “Most Wanted” culprits in Americans’ collective burgeoning waistlines. The fact is, he’s probably right. We the People tend to want our plates over-flowing, and we need copious amounts of liquid to wash it all down. You can’t be expected to eat a full-pound cheese and bacon hamburger (smothered in mushrooms), basket of onion rings, and a large side of baked beans and simply sip on a paltry 16-ounce beverage. Throw in a brownie for dessert and you might need to refill that cup more than once.
But why go after just sodas? I’m thinking if the mayor really wants to get New Yorkers in shape, there are a couple of basic suggestions that would go a long way in slimming down the masses. For example, how about doing away with 75 percent of the taxicabs in the city? If people were forced to walk virtually everywhere they went, they’d definitely lose a few pounds. As an added bonus, the roads would be a lot less congested, and auto-emission pollution would be curtailed significantly.
Shutting down all elevator service would also help considerably. Imagine the cardiovascular conditioning available to office workers by running up and down 85 flights in some of those really tall skyscrapers, maybe even a couple of times a day. Shoot, 40-floor buildings are common in NYC. Those would help as well.
And if the mayor is really serious about health issues in the five boroughs that make up his fiefdom, he’s going to have to take his soda ban into the next realm of Big Brotherhood. Let’s be real. A regular beer has about the same amount of calories as a can of Coke Classic. Ditto a shot of booze. If you’re going to restrict soda ounces, shouldn’t you restrict alcohol intake as well?
How about all those Italian restaurants in the city? Heaping plates of pasta are seldom on a nutritionist’s list under the heading, “Go ahead, eat all you want.” As a matter of fact, no matter what the cuisine, I’d be willing to guess that with the exception of those grossly overpriced boutique cafes du jour that feature no more than tiny-bite morsels of exotic fare, most eateries’ prime sellers come loaded with calories, fat and sodium.
And what about the guys on the street corner selling pretzels, hot dogs, slices of pizza, bagels, ice cream or fried dough with powdered sugar on top? Not exactly anchors of the food pyramid system there, Mr. Mayor. Don’t you think that if the public really wanted “broccoli-on-a-stick” or “tofu-to-go” instead of the previously mentioned delicacies, there would have been an entrepreneur already filling that void?
If you’re really getting on a health kick, there’s always smoking. Perhaps members of the NYFD should carry around miniature fire hose-shaped spritzers with the authority to douse any lighted tobacco they see.
By proclaiming the ban on huge gulps of liquid gluttony, the mayor’s heart is in the right place. He just wants people to be healthier. But, regardless of his intentions, we still have a right in this country to eat and drink ourselves to obesity if we want. Obviously, by looking at the average American, we’ve decided to take advantage of that freedom. So, while the mayor is free to give us suggestions, and maybe even demonstrate a few himself, perhaps he shouldn’t just tell the populace what choices to make by fiat. Folks don’t like that.
I suggest we all have a cold Coke and celebrate our freedom.
Bill Lewis is a free-lance writer in Marietta.