GOOD

Texas Ag Commissioner Wants Deep Fryers Back in Schools

Sid Miller says it’s “not about french fries; it’s about freedom.”

Photo by Christian Schnettelker and www.manoftaste.de via Flickr

Everyone knows that fried food is delicious—and no place knows that better than Texas, the nation’s leader in turkey-frying disasters, and the home of deep-fried sweet tea. But just because something tastes really (really, really) good, does that mean kids should be eating it every day? For years, doctors, nutritionists, and informed policymakers have answered that question with a resounding “no,” pointing to rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and malnutrition. And national policies regarding public school lunches have slowly evolved to address the professional consensus on these issues. But Sid Miller, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, has stepped up to the pulpit to take a stand against the oppression of healthy lunches, government intervention, and the meddling, anti-free-market machinations of the arugula lobby. The Texas Tribune reports that Miller seeks to overturn a statewide, 10-year ban on deep fryers and soda in schools, claiming that the issue is “not about french fries; it’s about freedom.”


Critics of Miller’s mission don’t see it as a matter of freedom. Instead, they consider it a public health concern that is leading to rising healthcare costs and a nation of unhealthy children. Per the Tribune:

In 2013, 16 percent of high school students in Texas were obese, up from 14 percent in 2005. Only Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama reported higher rates. Nationwide, child obesity rates have jumped from 7 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 2012.

And a recent op-ed on Miller’s plans in the Houston Chronicle notes:

Miller's proposed unhealthy changes could contribute to student obesity. Whatever a cafeteria chef is cooking will absorb more oil during deep-frying than it would through other cooking methods. About one in four high school students in Houston already drink one or more sodas a day, according to a recent Harris County Healthcare Alliance report.

School lunches are the subject of a considerable amount of impassioned national debate lately; many conservatives had no idea how much they hated healthy lunches until Michelle Obama made them a centerpiece of her priorities as first lady. Since his election, Miller has been dead set on his mission to liberate the lunchroom—before his campaign to bring back the deep fryer, Miller’s first official act as commissioner was to “grant amnesty” to cupcakes, brownies and other baked goods, products that he feels should be for sale in schools, but are currently restricted to a limited amount of “fundraiser days” each year. Though as New York magazine points out, he’s also not the first person in his position to advocate for unhealthier school lunches:

Miller's predecessor, Todd Staples, also made school lunches a focus of his term. In 2014, he called Meatless Mondays "treasonous" and "a carefully orchestrated campaign that seeks to eliminate meat from Americans’ diets seven days a week— starting with Mondays.”

While sentiments like Staples’ might come off as paranoid to some, they are indicative of the reactionary attitudes that have sprung up around the school lunch battlefield, and plans—like Miller’s—that are willing to make students collateral damage in the battle to spite political adversaries. In fact, Susan Combs, Miller’s fellow Republican and the former agricultural commissioner who originally instated the deep fryer ban, condemned Miller’s deep-fryer advocacy to the Tribune:

“I don't think there is any way he could have studied the issue or he never would have done this,” said Combs, who said it was “unimaginable” that Miller would go ahead with these repeals. “I am actually baffled and sorry that Commissioner Miller did what was not good for kids. If you give children bad choices, they will make them.”

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Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

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God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

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