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LA Food Police

If you haven't yet heard, the Los Angeles City council has declared the first day back to work each week to be "Meatless Monday."  According to one source,

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who also supports the banning of new fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles, said  the new resolution is just one part of a new "good food" agenda for the city.

I don't necessarily have a problem with private entities pushing for less meat consumption.  I might disagree with some of their claims (as I did here), but at least we can put all our facts on the table.  One fact that is often forgotten in meat debates is that it isn't sufficient to look at the amount of energy (or crops) expended to get beef.  We also have to look at what we get.  Most people really like the taste of meat.   

Almost no one looks at their iPad and asks, "how much more energy went into producing this than my old Apple II." The iPad is so much better than the Apple II.  We'd be willing to accept more energy use to have a better computer.  Likewise a nice T-bone is so much better than a head of broccoli.  I'm willing to accept more energy use to have a T-bone than a head of broccoli.    

Now, if my T-bone consumption is imposing costs on others, let's talk about that.  But, here the focus would be on the issues causing the externality (e.g., CO2) not on meat per se.  

The real trouble comes when city governments (rather than private entities) start making symbolic gestures (here's my take on what symbolic gestures imply about government).  Even more troubling is when a council-man or -women presumes to know better than a land-owner or restaurant owner how their land and capital should be used.  See this Reason TV video for an interesting account of developments in LA.