New staple food ordinance unwise

Forcing local businesses to add arbitrary options poses issues.

The Minneapolis City Council is considering a proposal that would require private businesses with grocery licenses to carry a minimum amount of so-called staple foods, the Minnesota Daily reported Tuesday. These minimums would include, for example, 6 pounds of cheese and at least 30 pounds of fruit or vegetables, among other items.

The proposal’s goal, according to Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon, is to bring healthier foods to areas that don’t have them readily available. It’s important to note that this would not affect every store that sells food and that exemptions would be available for businesses that sell specialty foods or only sell staple foods as a supplement to their main income source.

This proposal has been met with some criticism from some council members, like Elizabeth Glidden, who says this new ordinance could just create extra work for the city’s health inspectors.

We appreciate the city leaders’ concern for their citizens and understand the sentiment of wanting plenty of options for healthy foods in areas where these choices may be scarce.

However, the current solution to this problem is misguided. The proposed ordinance could be crippling for businesses that don’t have the resources to stock required staple foods. In addition, smaller stores often sell those items at inflated rates, so mandating they carry more of them would do little to make prevalent healthy foods at affordable prices.

Additionally, forcing grocery-licensed stores to provide a few extra healthy options won’t make a significant difference in people’s shopping habits.