Minneapolis is demonstrating once again that the government can’t use rules and regulations to make us better people.

In 2014, the city passed an ordinance which forces all grocery stores— there are a few precious exemptions—to keep fresh, healthy produce on the shelf.  Their reasoning? People aren’t eating healthy because it’s too hard to buy healthy options. In poorer neighborhoods, stores don’t have enough healthy options and are thereby shoving the poor into obesity.

Or something like that.  But you don’t have to have a degree in public policy to realize this didn’t work.  Reason Magazine has the details:

The law went into effect in 2016, but two years on, the city is not seeing any discernable increase in the amount of healthy food people are buying. Instead, its healthy food mandate is leading to frustrated grocers and reports of food waste.

“If I could sell the oranges and the apples like the chips, I will take off the chips and sell the oranges,” said one convenience store owner to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in an article published Monday, adding that he threw away more of the fresh fruit than he actually sold.

Everyone act surprised that these very specific regulations didn’t work:

The law requires, for instance, not only that milk be carried, but that five gallons be on hand, and feature at least two non- or low-fat options. Milk items not in gallon or half gallon containers do not count toward this requirement, nor do flavored milks.

It’s a similar story with eggs. Stores must keep six one-dozen containers on hand. Six-count or 18-count containers don’t count toward this requirement. Nor do one-dozen containers if the eggs inside are medium or extra-large sized.

Stores have to stock approximately 13 cans of beans, but baked beans don’t count toward this requirement, nor do cans that mix beans and meat, despite canned meat being another required ware.

The prescriptiveness of the ordinance rankles convenience store managers who often don’t have much space to work with within their stores, says Lance Klatt, executive director of the Minnesota Service Station and Convenience Store Association.

“Some retail food owners don’t have a huge footprint. It’s harder to expand in that category,” says Klatt, adding that “we understand you have to have healthy food offerings. We don’t like them being mandated and being forced down our throats.”

Yep.  That just about sums it up. People do not like the government to come in and micro-manage every aspect of their business.  If a grocer could sell kale like he sells M&Ms, believe me.  He’d take advantage of kale’s popularity.

However, the government can’t nanny-state grocers into manipulating its citizens into better eating.

Image Credit: U.S. Army photo by Honey Nixon

Hat Tip: Reason Magazine

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.