Bad Food, Bad Politics

No matter how much organic produce it sells, Wal-Mart just can’t get any love from Democratic presidential hopefuls these days.

Earlier this week, Michelle Obama, Barack’s wife, resigned from the board of manufacturer TreeHouse Foods, which has the big-box retailer as its largest customer. And Hillary Clinton, a former director of Wal-Mart itself, has taken to refusing campaign contributions from her ex-employer.

In Ms. Obama’s case, the resignation came on the heels of recent criticism by opposition candidates, who have called Barack a hypocrite for bashing Wal-Mart while also profiting from his wife’s affiliation with the company (she made about an extra $50K a year from TreeHouse, on top of her full-time position at the University of Chicago). Her story, of course, is that she left to devote more time to helping her husband campaign, not because of “any disagreement with the company on any matter,” according to a TreeHouse statement.

When I started thinking about the whole thing, what really bummed me out was Ms. Obama’s hand in producing what looks like terrible food. And while Bill Clinton’s antiobesity work has likely been helpful to his wife’s campaign, the only candidates really being vocal about the quality of food in this country seem to be on the right.

Republican hopeful Tommy Thompson, a former secretary of Health and Human Services, discusses portion control and diabetes; GOPer Mike Huckabee turned healthy eating into a major part of his platform as governor of Arkansas, and it looks like he’ll do the same in the presidential race; and even Kansas conservatron Sam Brownback is speaking out against junk-food advertising aimed at kids.

Sure, some of these candidates are likely addressing the issue more because of the perceived cost to taxpayers of obesity-related health care spending—and the potential cost of obesity-related personal-injury lawsuits to their food-industry cronies—but they’re speaking pretty loudly. Can any of the Dems do better, or are they just as beholden to yucky-food companies?

Read my lips: No More Bad Food!

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