August 16, 2012
Hide the bacon … and all other pork products for that matter.
A recent ban on all pork products at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas, may likely start a new trend of bacon bootlegging among students of this small, private liberal arts college.
The school’s president, Michael J. Sorrell, explained the reasoning behind the ban was because “pork is an unhealthy meat that can lead to a variety of health issues.” He went on to list “high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, sodium retention and heart problems, not to mention weight gain and obesity” among the health defects caused by pork and referred to the ban as a “continued effort to improve the lives of our students.”
Imposed bans or limits on food choices are nothing new. You may remember the ban on trans fats in many cities a few years back or more recently the proposed soda ban by New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg.
During my undergraduate years at Penn State, a similar initiative by the university’s vegetarian club attempted to force university food services to serve only cage-free eggs, instead of the locally-produced eggs raised in a conventional manner on the university’s own poultry research farm and other UEP-certified producers.
When you get down to it, the reasoning behind this pork ban doesn’t hold water. There is no reliable scientific evidence proving that consumption of pork is indeed linked to or solely responsible for the many negative health consequences that Sorrell stated.
Still, what I find most disturbing about this entire situation is not the blatant food tyranny but the following statement from Sorrell: "The reality is that our student population comes from a demographic that struggles with the type of health concerns that you see in under-resourced community."
Sorrell’s statement implies there is more to this pork ban than just a supposed concern for student health.
It seems he believes that because students from under-privileged communities are prone to particular health problems, they are also incapable of making healthy food choices. Instead they need someone else to make these decisions for them. This mentality is counterproductive and insulting to the students he proclaims to be helping.
While more effort needs to be made to encourage students of all ages to eat a healthy diet, in the end, patronizing them and prohibiting certain foods will do little good and could possibly even deter the behavior they so wish to increase.
Moderation is the factor missing here. Instead of limitations, what is needed is a more sensible approach that empowers students with access to information about a balanced diet, offers a diversity of healthy food options, and provides incentives for students to make healthy choices.
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