Nanny-stater of the week: Fargo limits kids to less than four shots of juice per day

Part 12 of 12 in the series Nanny State of the Week

By Eric Boehm |

It’s like the toddler version of Seinfeld.

City officials say “No juice for you.”

Most kids today are probably unfamiliar with the classic sitcom “about nothing,” but the kids in Fargo, N.D., might very well be living inside one of Larry David’s plots. At least that’s better for their well-being than living inside a Coen Brothers’ movie, I suppose.

NO JUICE FOR YOU: Kids in Fargo, North Dakota, are now limited to only six ounces of juice per day, thanks to a new city ordinance.

A doff of the cap to my colleague Rob Port for reporting this week on the Fargo City Council’s decision to pass an ordinance limiting juice consumption to six ounces per day for children attending day care in the city.

For those of us who aren’t all that familiar with liquid measurements — six ounces is about the same amount as would be contained in four shot glasses.

If you’re talking about rum or tequila, that’s certainly more than enough liquid. But for thirsty kids, it’s basically the same as giving them nothing at all.

It’s just government nannies acting like real nannies.

From Port’s story:

Tony Gehrig, who campaigned for a seat on the commission but lost in June, says these ordinances go too far.

“I am the authority on my child’s well-being, not our city commissioners,” he told Watchdog. “My day care reports to me my son’s activities and what he consumes, and if my day care is not performing up to my standards then the free market solution is to fire them. This law is unnecessary, intrusive and an attempt to replace to parent as the authority on their child.”

But Commissioner Mike Williams, who was part of the unanimous vote for the ordinance, says it’s about healthier kids.

“It’s similar to school lunch where they used to take ketchup as a vegetable,” he said. “Our health officers have been working with our day cares to create a healthier environment. It’s about good nutritious food in day cares.”

Good nutrition is a fine, noble goal, but even noble goals should have their limits when it comes to telling other people what they can and can’t do — or what they can and can’t feed their own children.

The efforts to limit what kids can drink in day care are hardly limited to Fargo. A few weeks ago, in this very space, we highlighted an effort by Connecticut state officials to require only skim milk for day cares in the Nutmeg State.

As we pointed out at the time, the proposal was likely to have unintended consequences because skim milk isn’t quite as healthy as the name might imply — on top of the fact some kids might need the fattier milk for actual health reasons.

The same could probably be said of the situation in Fargo. Certainly excessive amounts of juice could be bad for kids’ health, but one-size-fits-all government policies are sure to fail, likely sooner than later, because everyone has unique needs.

For their efforts to cut down on sugar rushes in day care, city officials in Fargo are this week’s winners. Their prize is a gallon of 100 percent artificial juice with lots of sugar added.

Boehm can be reached at