Food on the ballot

In Featured Posts by Prof10 Comments

On Tuesday, voters in America will make decisions other than which candidates they dislike more than the others.  There are also many local and state-wide ballot initiatives, including several that involve food-related issues.

As we discussed in class, proposals for soda pop taxes have passed in only two cities, Berkeley and Philadelphia. On Tuesday, residents of Boulder, San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, California will decide whether to impose a 1 to 2 cent per ounce tax on pop and several other sweetened beverages.

In Fairfax, Virginia, there is a ballot measure that would impose a 4% tax on prepared meals and beverages purchased from restaurants and grocery stores.  This measure, however, seems to be more about raising revenue than improving health.  Corporate farming and animal welfare measures are also on ballots in several states.

According to the very useful website ballotpedia.org, perhaps the oddest initiative was in California.  Called, the “California ‘Shellfish Suppression’ Initiative”, it failed to get the required number of signatures and was not placed on the ballot.  Had it done so and passed, it would have made “sale or consumption of shellfish a serious felony punishable by a $666,000 fine per occurrence and/or prison sentence of up to six years, six months, and six days.”

Part (a) of the proposed law stated “Shellfish are a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us in Leviticus to suppress. They also smell bad.”

I guess someone really doesn’t shellfish.


ProfFood on the ballot


  1. Elizabeth

    I think that having these issues on the ballot is incredibly important. Seeing as much of the food we eat in America tends to be high in fat and carbs, implementing a tax on them should be the step in the right direction. I particularly enjoy Virginia’s tax proposition for prepared meals from restaurants and grocery stores- a lot of food offered in restaurants are worse than food that you can prepare for yourself. Therefore taxation seems the best approach to raise awareness to the unhealthy foods that plague our society.

  2. Zixiang

    It is so obvious to us all, that obesities and diabetes are comparatively prevalent in the U.S at this time; therefore, the government, manufacturers, and scientists are urgently generating effective method to deal with those serious problems. One feasible method could be higher the tax of those soft drinks, and some other junk foods, which are primarily bad for people’s health. However, the price-increase should be effectively and reasonably enough to decrease the consumption of those junk foods, neither too low nor particularly high can be a good decision to deal with this problem. In addition, this should need further investigations and researches to determine how much the tax should be increased to achieve the goal of lowering those chronic diseases all over the country.

  3. Irwin

    I think that having these issues on the ballot is important because of the increasing obesity in the population. The tax on prepared meals in Virginia is particularly good because it will also encourage people to buy their own groceries and cook at home. While it may seem like a hassle, cooking homemade food is often healthier than prepared meals from supermarkets, and the costs of the ingredients needed to produce the same food item is lower than the price of the prepared meal. It will end up saving the spending of the consumers on food.

  4. Yijun

    That is a quite interesting news about the ballot for food. I think the soda pop taxes is a nice idea to prevent the increase number of the obesity. Then we could use these taxes on the development for the health food and treat the obesity. Also, I believe that in the future more and more state will pass the soda pop taxes. In addition, the ballot for the shellfish in California is funny. I think it might have a lot of people hate the smells of the shellfish in California.

  5. Kelsey

    It is interesting to me to think about the reasons behind why states propose the taxing of certain food products. I have heard a lot about states taxing foods with low nutritional value for the purpose of trying to discourage people from buying those products. However, I haven’t ever really given much thought to the fact that states might be motivated to impose taxes on certain foods for the sole purpose of generating revenue. I think that it is very important that people get the chance to vote on these issues, but I am wondering whether or not the public knows enough about them.

  6. Janelle

    I wish there was more talk of food in politics. When Bill Maher finally got the chance to interview President Obama a few days ago, he asked him about food policies in concern to the knowledge of the consumer, agriculture and g.m.o.’s for example. Food quality and safety should be promoted more heavily as an important issue we decide every day. We are never going to get around the fact that we need food, so why not put the most sustainably important practice of well-being in food, human, and environment forward.

  7. Jennifer

    I purposefully decided to comment on this article on Wednesday so I could see how the results of the stated soda tax proposals fared. It actually turns out that each of these cities- Oakland, Albany, San Francisco, and Boulder- all approved the taxation. The percentages of yes votes for each of these cities were 60%, 71%, 62%, and 54%, respectively. It should be noted though, that Oakland, Albany, and San Francisco are Bay Area cities that are relatively close to Berkley, a city that, as stated above, has already approved this sugary soda tax so for the residents in that area, I feel like they wouldn’t see an issue with it because it’s successful in a neighboring city. Now, as I was doing my research, I couldn’t find anything on where the extra tax from the soda consumption will go, but I could only hope that it goes to an initiative that promotes health and wellness in the community, since the purpose of the taxation was to become a healthier community.

  8. Lucas

    I think that a tax on soda pop isn’t a bad idea. As a country we tax alcohol and tobacco an extra amount, two substances that are seriously detrimental to our health. As we discussed in class, processed sugars are leading causes to obesity, which leads to many other serious health issues. If creating a tax on pop lowers nationwide consumption, and therefore lowers childhood obesity, would it be such a bad thing?

  9. Ashley

    It is of great interest to me as to whether or not these cities will be pioneering a movement that will spread across the nation. The movement is the passing of a tax on soda/sugary beverages. Before this election, Berkley, CA was the only city that had a soda tax. This will be exciting to watch the unfolding over the next couple of years.
    Personally, I don’t know how I would have voted. I understand both sides of the argument. Knowing the negative health effects of soda and the costs that are incurred because of it, I would understand supporting the tax. Boulder, CO added a two-cent tax per once of soda and the California cities added a one-cent tax per ounce of soda. This tax is expected to generate millions of dollars, which could help offset the cost of the health issues soda causes. On the other hand, being an avid caffeine consumer I don’t know that I would want to pay more. Consuming these beverages on a daily basis would definitely add up and something would need to change.
    I am guessing I am not the only one who was unsure of how to vote on this bill. According to an article written by USA Today, the campaigns run both for and against the tax were pricey. The only campaigns in California that spent more money were for the U.S. Senate seat. This shows that it is clearly a passionate area.

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