You may not have noticed, but, I normally stay far away from politics in these posts. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion, but political issues are so divisive today that I don’t want to go there. Also, since my opinions drift from one end of the spectrum to the other, I’m afraid I’d lose most of you sooner or later over some misunderstanding. However, there comes a time when a man has to plant his feet solid and embrace what is nothing less than political bravery in the face of overwhelming odds.
Last week, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy vetoed a bill that would have prohibited the sale of chocolate milk in Connecticut schools. It seems the Governor and I are both fans of chocolate milk.
The Governor’s veto was motivated by a recommendation by Pat Baird, president of the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics who, according to the above linked article says that:
“Milk consumption would drop off drastically if chocolate milk, which contains sodium, was banned.”
Sodium? Sodium? Who’s talking about sodium? Chocolate milk contains chocolate. OK, some contains cocoa and some contains some chemical concoction designed to makes us think about chocolate, but us fans know why we drink chocolate milk, and it ain’t because it supplies “critical nutrients for growth and development.” Let’s face it, I have developed as far as I’m ever likely to and I’ve grown more than I should have. I just love chocolate milk.
When I was in my 20’s, working for Airborne Freight, I used to take a carton of chocolate milk and a pack of Lorna Doones into staff meetings. My boss once commented:
“You know, bringing cookies and milk to a business meeting isn’t helping to assuage the notion that you are too young to be designing the solutions to this company’s problems.”
Thank God for the benefit of context, because having to admit that I didn’t know what “assuage” meant would have further damaged my image.
I explained that I was uncomfortable in those meetings, and that chocolate milk added the comfort that I couldn’t yet take from experience. I agreed to eat the cookies at my desk and I agreed to pour the milk into a cup. From that point on, I looked like I was drinking coffee, but me and Elsie knew the truth.
As for the sodium connection, the bill wasn’t aimed at banning chocolate milk in the first place. The bill was to ban the sale of food with “added sodium.” I have written before about unintended consequences and I have written about taking facts into consideration when making decisions, but this seems like a case of ignoring the obvious. When presented with the fact that a law banning added sodium would endanger one of life’s little pleasures, why didn’t they just change the law to say:
“blah blah blah, added sodium, blah blah…except in the case of chocolate milk, blah blah.”
I mean, they are writing the law from scratch. If they didn’t mean for it to ban the sale of chocolate milk, why couldn’t they just say that?
See, this is why I don’t write about political topics. I actually think that the people who make up legislatures, here in CT, in every other state and in Washington, DC, are capable of simply saying what they mean.
Since I’ve entered the fray, I’ll go out on a limb and say that I don’t even know why we need to ban things with added sodium. Why do we have to ban stuff from being sold in schools?
When I was growing up, I could stop at a store on my way home from school and buy penny candy. I could buy licorice, chocolate, Pixy Sticks and those brightly colored tiny globs of sugar that came stuck to a strip of waxed paper. We didn’t have vending machines in school, but the lady at Jule’s Market was pushing stuff out the door like, well you know, candy. Did that ruin my appetite? No, OK, maybe but it didn’t matter because my dad simply said: “you’re not leaving the table until you finish your dinner.” Besides, even at a penny a dose, I really couldn’t afford to OD on that stuff.
Parents and teachers should stop relying on the rule of law to keep children safe from themselves. We should be teaching moderation, restraint and self-control. We should teach children, as early as possible about the benefits of a healthy diet. We should encourage healthy choices and we should let them benefit from the experience of making healthy choices. We should also practice what we teach. We shouldn’t drag our kids from a chocolate-free-zone and then stop at McDonald’s on the way home for an order of fries. Then again, those fries are sooooo good, maybe a small order. Moderation, that’s the key, “all things in moderation.” Isn’t that what they say?
Of course, another solution to all of this would be to buy chocolate milk from Trinity Farms (the cows at the top). Their chocolate milk is made with fresh milk and ultra-fine cocoa. Nothing but moo in that stuff.