Tonight: Should The Government Keep Its Hands Off Our Lunch?

This week, the national media reported that presidential candidate Jeb Bush is spitting mad that the National Institutes of Health has awarded $2 million in grants to develop a video game that aims to show parents how to effectively get their kids to eat (and like!) healthy foods. He calls it a waste of scarce resources. The game’s developer has angered political conservatives for years, receiving threats and hate mail and sparking pending federal legislation that would prevent the government from funding games that teach “food parenting practices.”

What does this have to do with Philadelphia? Well, everything, if you consider that the National Constitution Center is coincidentally hosting a panel tonight at 6:30 pm called “Should the Government Regulate What We Eat?” It’s part of the center’s new feature exhibition, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? The Government’s Effect on the American Diet.” And while this week’s partisan controversy deals more with funding than regulation, the issue is a) sure to come up tonight; and b) part of a broader conversation that has people like Sarah Palin mocking Michelle Obama for her anti-childhood obesity initiatives and bringing sugar cookies to a Bucks County school fundraiser immediately after calling Pennsylvania a “nanny state run amok” for proposing to limit the sugary treats served at public school holiday parties.

True to form, the NCC is bringing in top policy experts to debate these issues. Jacob Gersen, founder and director of the Food Law Lab at Harvard Law School, will partner with Ezekiel Emanuel, Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, to “discuss the intersection of food, regulation and how the U.S. government influences the food we eat.” Michael Gerhardt, professor of constitutional law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, moderates.

$10 adult tickets ($7 for members, teachers and students) grant access to the exhibition between 5 and 6:30 pm. The exhibition, which runs until early January, is described by NCC staff as one that explores how “world events, innovation, government regulations, research, and economics have shaped what we eat and why.”

Maybe the museum will serve sugar cookies.

Should The Government Regulate What We Eat? [Tonight’s program]

National Constitution Center [Official]