Advocates for government regulation of food argue that a free market would produce unhealthy food due to corrupt producers putting profits over the public interest. And while it is true that corrupt producers do put profits over the public interest, newly leaked documents show that government regulation is not only incapable of preventing this outcome but even actively facilitates it.

In 1977 Congress attempted to define what Americans ought to eat. They relied heavily on Harvard scientists Dr. Fredrick Stare and Mark Hegsted. Hegsted was eventually put in charge of the USDA’s human nutrition subdivision where he crafted official governmental recommendations on nutrition that still haunt us today. The low fat craze of the 1980s and 1990s can be attributed to this landmark event of what would become government incompetence.

Long story short, today (about than 50 years after the fact) it was revealed that these scientists were paid a bribe by the sugar industry to overemphasize the role of saturated fat* and cholesterol in heart disease while downplaying the role of sugar. In today’s inflated dollars it would be about $48,000.

This is truly amazing: for a mere $48,000 the sugar industry was able to convince Congress to form terrible dietary recommendations that have made millions of Americans fatter and more diseased, shortened our lifespans, and increased human suffering.

Sugar shows an addictive effect in brain studies and kills more people than illegal drugs. Over the past 40 years sugar might have even killed more people than war itself, all for a $48,000 bribe! (Does this mean we can file war crime charges against the USDA bureaucrats and their enablers?)

Now we know that refined sugar has proven to be the greatest risk to heart disease, at least in recent years, than any other food ingredient other than artificial trans fats.

Lest you think this is an isolated incident, this is the same government that also officially recommended Americans eat more man-made artificial trans fats as a healthy alternative to saturated fats! Today trans fats appear so deadly that now the FDA is banning them. From “healthy alternative” to “so dangerous it must be banned,” these are the buffoons America looks to for guidance on healthy eating.

Government guidelines have a huge impact. Besides the millions of people who trust them, it causes doctors to echo the bad advice, regulatory bodies ruling over food stamps and government schools push them to serve food matching these guidelines, etc.

The reason for this is simple. Politicians and bureaucrats have no clue about these things. The only people who do are people working for industry. Government cannot regulate these industries without relying on people from these industries who have sympathies for their own industry or relying on people with no experience and no clue about what they are regulating. Either way it’s a tax-funded boondoggle for us.

In sum, government is not only incapable of preventing corrupt food producers from making us sick, government facilitates them. Just as it facilitates the same thing for drug producers and many more industries.

No, the free market will not produce a panacea of perfectly safe products and honest corporations. Yet the idea government solves this problem is a myth we must abandon.

* Footnote: No, this doesn’t meant saturated fats are good for you. My belief is that trans fats, sugar, and saturated fats (in that order) are all health killers. Stick to a diet focused primarily on whole unrefined plants and no refined oils other than olive oil.