Friday, May 09, 2008

Electoral Politics Friday: The Greens encourage the comodification of water

It's election year so of course the greens are amping up the Moral Panic about food.* This time they've surveyed food to see what they have for sale. The list is full of the usual breathless, random, dividing of food into good and bad (Muesli bar good, chips bad). The discussion on what's available in food canteens has always seemed ridiculous to me, and completely ignores some basic facts about school lunches, and seems to want people to buy things from school that they can make at home (like sandwiches) rather than selling things at school which it's harder to bring from home (like pies). I'm all for getting profit making businesses out of providing food in schools. I'd support the provision of free lunch (and breakfast) in schools. But since this is about moral panic rather than food supply, that won't even get mentioned.

The extent this is about moral panic was made clear in the discussion on drinks. They tell us that 44% of schools sell water and 44% of schools don't sell water, but the 'good' news is the number of schools selling water has gone up. Every single school should (and I'm sure does) have all the water kids can drink for free. It's obscene that schools selling water to kids, and that anyone would laud them for doing so. Even if the greens don't care about commodification, they should care about all those plastic bottles.

* Frogblog couldn't discuss GST on Food without listing food sins:

It’s hard to develop a graded GST system without grey areas. E.g. Should the following foods be in or out; fast food, imported luxury items, stuff nutritionalists say we already eat too much off such as dairy and fats?
Although they were hardly alone in this. It's really depressing that a response to food going up is greeted by an extended discussion which makes it clear how much society doesn't like food, or the poor people who eat it (if I had a piece of KFC, for everytime that KFC had been used as an example, then I'd have enough KFC for a KFC party. And at that party I'd rant about how unsubtle a way it is to hate and blame poor brown people.)


  1. Anonymous1:25 pm

    Uh... the Greens hate the poor people who eat "imported luxury items"?

  2. Who would _buy_ water at school!? In my day there were water fountains everywhere, if you wanted water you'd just go and turn on the tap and drink it. If you wanted it in a bottle, you'd just bring one from home and fill it up at school.

    I'm sick of the emphasis on kids' eating. As though a bought pie once in a while is going to ruin their health.

    Excellent post Maia!

  3. Anonymous11:19 am

    I'm sorry- are you implying that the Greens are perpetuating racial stereotypes about KFC by objecting to its lack of nutritional value, or is that just a tangental point to your objection to that post? Because I've yet to see a single racist undercurrent in any of my party materials.

    I agree with you that selling water is a poor statistic to mention in a discussion of school nutrition for exactly the reasons you state, (and especially agree with you that bottled water is silly) but I disagree that this somehow invalidates the rest of the points they make because a single error condemns the whole list to "moral panic". You're making the logical fallacy of assuming that someone's motivation in saying something affects the validity of what they're saying.

  4. Anonymous8:11 pm

    the greens perpetuate racist stereotypes by failing to address the connection between poverty, so-called choices, and ethnic/racial privilege(or the lack of it).

    yogurt, soy milk, oreos etc can be considered 'imported luxuary items'