I’m considering starting a new religion call Fatatarianism. If I do, you’re all invited to join. I promise I won’t collect any dues, with the possible exception of a cover charge for our annual pilgrimage to a farm, where I’ll wave my hand over a pig that will be later be transubstantiated into a delicious meal.
I realize joining another religion could be problematic for those of you who are already religious. I apologize for the inconvenience, but my only other options were to form a new ethnic group called Fatians or an entirely new culture called … actually, I don’t know what I’d call the culture. Maybe Fatian would work for that too.
Anyway, given that the thousands of members of the Fat Head Facebook group come in all shapes and colors, it’s highly unlikely we could pass ourselves off as an ethic group. “You Fatians all look alike to me” would just never fly … although given enough time, I’m sure people would start writing Fatian jokes.
How do you drown a Fatian submarine crew? Tap on the hatch with a sausage.
I kind of like the idea of starting a culture, but I have no idea how to go about it. (A girlfriend once accused me starting a culture in my shower, but she was referring to something that had sprouted in a corner of the stall.) I’m reasonably sure starting a separate culture would require developing a lot of original music, dances, clothing styles, myths, mating rituals and perhaps even a small crime syndicate. Oh, and at least one restaurant in New York, San Francisco and Chicago. We don’t have that kind of time.
So religion it is. If nothing else, there’s far less paperwork involved.
I should probably explain what’s motivating a secular guy like me to consider starting a religion. It’s all about ensuring that Chareva and I can still decide what to put in our girls’ lunchboxes if Tennessee is ever taken over nanny-statists.
You may recall the incident last year in which a school-lunch inspector took away a girl’s home-packed lunch. Here’s a quote from the newspaper article I linked in my post:
A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs – including in-home day care centers – to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home. When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. A reader I’ve met in person told me about a similar incident involving his niece, and a school district in Chicago has already banned lunches brought from home.
And now just to prove that American officials aren’t uniquely stupid, some politicians across the pond are proposing the same stupidity. Here are some quotes from an article in the U.K. Guardian:
Packed lunches could be banned and pupils barred from leaving school during breaks to buy junk food under a government plan to increase the take-up of school meals, which is to be announced on Friday.
The plan, drawn up by John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby, the founders of the food company Leon, aims to tackle the poor public image of school meals.
Okay, somebody in the U.K. please tell me: are Vincent and Dimbleby proposing rules that would require more kids to eat the foods produced by their company? I’m not familiar with Leon.
And why do stupid government proposals always seem to spread around the globe? Is there an annual convention where officials from around the world all get together at a resort, drink cocktails with umbrellas, get taxpayer-funded massages and exchange stupid ideas?
The report, which suggests a link between nutrition and academic performance, highlights that parents currently spend almost £1bn on packed lunches but only 1% of them meet nutritional standards. In contrast, scientific studies show most school meals are a healthier option.
Those “scientific” studies are of course based on the unscientific assumption that government nutrition guidelines are correct.
The report suggests a range of measures for headteachers to increase take-up of school meals. They include banning unhealthy packed lunches full of sugary drinks, crisps and sweets, or even a total ban on all packed lunches.
So what does all this have to do with me starting a religion? I’m getting to that. First, let’s look at part of a follow-up story to the incident in North Carolina:
After a national outcry over lunch inspections at a pre-K program in Hoke County, the North Carolina Childcare Commission got the message. The commission reinstated a rule allowing homemade lunches to be exempt from nutrition guidelines.
The new rule means if parents pack a lunch for their child, the preferences of the parents would trump the established nutrition guidelines.
The change can be credited to a story that triggered national attention.
Yes, it’s good that the government food fascists backed off, but before we all do a victory dance, let’s stop and consider why they backed off: they were embarrassed by the national outcry. It didn’t suddenly occur to them that they’re supposed to be public servants, not the public’s masters. Take away the national attention and the embarrassment, and they would have happily continued telling parents what they can put in their own children’s lunchboxes.
How do I know that? Because an earlier article about the same commission’s proceedings (before the national attention and embarrassment) tells us so:
The staff of the Division of Child Development and Early Education drew up some nutrition rules in May 2011 for the NC Child Care Commission to consider. The commission discussed the proposed rules at a September 27, 2011 meeting. The minutes of that meeting show the commission members talked about allowing parents to make a “personal preference” for the food their children eat at school, including what they bring from home. According to the minutes, the commission’s attorney, Alexi Gruber from the Department of Justice, advised the members such preferences should supersede any nutrition rule.
The panel went against that advice, however, and deleted the word “personal” from the recommendation. The only exception left was for ethnic, religious or cultural reasons. The new rule cited a vegetarian diet as an example of the exception.
See if you can spot the glaring contradiction in the commission’s (ahem) thinking. Go ahead, I’ll wait …
Got it? Yup … the commission chose not to allow exceptions based on a parent’s “personal” preferences, but they were willing to make an exception for a vegetarian diet. Excuse me? Weren’t the exceptions supposed to be for ethnic, religious or cultural reasons?
Yes, some religions specify a vegetarian diet, but vegetarianism itself is not a religion. It’s a personal preference. But since many vegetarians cite moral reasons for their personal preference, the goofballs on the commission were willing to treat vegetarianism like a religion and offer vegetarians an exemption from their rules.
That’s why I’m considering starting the Fatatarian religion. You can argue the health benefits of meat vs. wheat with government officials until you’re blue in the face, and they won’t budge. But play the religion card, and they fold. So I figure to ensure that our daughters (and millions of other kids) are allowed to bring Fat Head lunches from home in the future, we need to make this a religious-freedom issue. Imagine how much fun it would be.
“Yes, Mr. Naughton, we called you in today because your daughter’s lunch didn’t include any grain products and was very high in saturated fat. I’m afraid that violates USDA rules.”
“Well, sorry, but you’ll have to make an exception. We’re strict Fatatarians.”
“Which means …?”
“It means our religion requires us to eat a diet high in fat.”
“So that you can go to heaven?”
“No, so that we can enjoy our time on earth.”
“Uh, but … well, there’s also the issue of you not including any grains in their –”
“No can do. Fatatarins consider eating wheat immoral.”
“How can eating wheat be immoral? You’re not killing anything.”
“Have you taken a peek at the diabetes rates lately?”
“Yes, but I still don’t see how eating wheat is a moral issue.”
“Simple. When kids end up with cavities and diabetes and asthma and food allergies and behavioral problems and beer bellies just so the USDA officials currently on sabbatical from their real jobs at Monsanto can force their parents to buy Monsanto’s grains for their kids’ lunches, that’s immoral.”
“And I’m quoting directly from the Book of Dietoronomy, verse twenty-seven.”
“Now, I don’t want to have to turn this into a First Amendment issue, but if you’re going to insist I violate my religion, I’ll have to call my law—”
“No, no, that won’t be necessary. I’m sure we can work out an exception.”
“Great. And by the way, on the third Friday of every month, my girls are required to walk around all day with a live chicken. I’ll expect you to accommodate them.”