If we could list our demand curves for calories or nutrients and match those with industry's supply curves, we could theoretically find a optimal level. However, with externalities galore as the consumption good comes in inconvenient (nutrition-wise) but often tasty bundles called "food," it's pretty hard for us to find that optimal point. It's harder still when our body is easily confused: our taste buds want fats, salts, and sugar, but our body needs vitamins and other nutrients to grow. Further, when we try to do our best and choose wisely, we can still be confounded by a number of other factors such as advertising and the persuasive power of friends and family.
Outspoken nutritionist Marion Nestle has had a couple of recent posts on food and government. She derides an apparently failing program in the UK that aims to take on the externalities imposed by food corporations by encouraging firms to voluntarily reduce salt, improve labeling, etc. She's not very impressed by this showing of corporate responsibility....
Class members: this post is the first for material on Quiz 2.