Recently, the BBC’s Analysis programme sat down with author Michael Pollan to discuss food policy and public health.
Here is a description of the interview from the BBC’s podcast:
What should we eat? Jo Fidgen talks to the influential American writer Michael Pollan about what food is – and what it isn’t. In an interview before an audience at the London School of Economics and Political Science he criticises the way the food industry has promoted highly-processed products delivering hefty doses of salt, sugar and fat. He believes that the plethora of accompanying health claims have left us more confused than ever about what food really is, where it has come from and its impact on our health and the environment. His solution? To cook at home. He argues that this simple change will guarantee a healthy diet and stop us relying on big food companies to feed us. It is also, he says, a profoundly political act. But is it a realistic proposition for busy working families or simply a middle-class ideology?
Marijuana Legalization and Public Health
This year saw a strange overlap of holidays. Easter corresponded with the pot smoker celebration of 420. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that this is the first 420 where marijuana can be purchased legally (in Colorado and Washington state). The Diane Rehm Show recently discussed marijuana legalization and its public health effects.
Here is a description for the segment from the show’s website:
Across the country, public attitudes towards legalizing marijuana have shifted and state legislatures are responding. No state has gone as far as Washington State or Colorado—where marijuana sales are legal—but many are moving to decriminalize the drug or make it available for medical use. And cash strapped states considering legalization are closely watching Colorado where the governor recently predicted a tax windfall. But while politicians are more eager to get on board, public health officials continue to raise alarm bells about the safety of lighting up. Guest host Susan Page and her guests discuss the business and changing politics of marijuana.
“Public health vs individual freedom”
This was the title of the most recent episode of the BBC’s Moral Maze podcast. The programme fosters an interesting (although admittedly, at times, dry) debate about the role of the state in regulating public health and its limits. For instance, do you have an individual right to Twinkies? Does the should the state regulate the size of sodas (NYC)?
Here is a description of the show:
When should society step in and save us from ourselves? Our apparently insatiable appetites for smoking, drinking and eating are all in the news this week, but where and how should we draw the line between individual freedom and public health? Is it purely a utilitarian calculation; that the consequences are such a drain on the national purse that we can no longer afford the luxury of letting people do what they want? Or does that just reduce the value of our bodies to the lowest common denominator – the bottom line on a balance sheet? And even if we could afford it, should the common good outweigh individual freedom? Is expecting other people to pay for the consequences of our own behaviour immoral? And what if we could invent a cheap and effective pill to allow us to drink as much as we want without suffering a hangover, or eat what we like without the risk of diabetes? We might herald the scientific advance, but would it make us better humans? Is there something morally, as well as corporally corrupting about defiling our bodies with intoxicants and excess? Or does that sound hopelessly Victorian and censorious in an age that has come to prize self-indulgence and hedonism almost as much human rights? Are policies to control our appetites the worst kind of nanny-statism that punishes the responsible and infantilises the rest or a sensible response to a public health crisis?
Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Matthew Taylor.