Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been taking heat for criticizing Michelle Obama’s vegetable crusade. And potential GOP presidential nominee rival Mike Huckabee took sides against Palin and in favor of Obama about the First Lady’s Let’s Move! health initiative.

After all, who could be against promoting healthy foods, right?

Liberals who like kind-hearted Republican suckers don’t like Palin. Upon more inspection, Palin seems to have better instincts than Huckabee on this issue, especially in these Tea Party days.

Obama is the face of Let’s Move!, a program dedicated to good health. Its home page has links to the White House, the Department of Health and Human Services (the defendant in the ObamaCare suits), the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Education.

Let’s Move! reminds us that the government’s Dietary Guidelines, last issued in 2005, were scheduled to be revised in 2010. According to the site, “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide science-based advice for individuals over age two to promote health and reduce the risk of major chronic diseases through diet and physical activity.”

While Obama is using taxpayer funds to promote fruits and vegetables and other things that “reduce the risk of major chronic diseases,” another part of the Obama administration is engaging in a war on how the free market promotes food that, get this, reduces the risk of major chronic diseases.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is mounting an assault on free-market promotions of healthy foods. Leading the charge is David Vladeck, director of the commission’s bureau of consumer protection.

A former litigator with Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen, Vladeck wants healthy food promotion by the free market to meet the scientific standards of over-the-counter dietary supplement products.

Lawyer Theodora McCormick explains in one article how the FTC is attempting to impose the Food and Drug Administration’s scientific testing standards to promotions of foods that have health benefits.

That would be an unprecedented expansion, and perhaps unlawful interposition, of FDA standards into the natural food market. It would also drive free market health food prices skyward.

The FTC claims it has legal authority to require food promotions to meet FDA scientific testing standards. In fact, however, current FTC regulations do not authorize the FTC’s recent interpretation that FDA scientific standards apply to foods promotions.

To change its rules, the FTC would need to follow the Administrative Procedures Act, and engage in a rulemaking subject to public comment.

Instead, the FTC is attempting to evade its rulemaking requirements by using consent decrees imposed on companies not willing to fight its new interpretation of its authority.

One privately owned company, however, has been willing to take on the FTC. POM Wonderful LLC, which is known for its odd-shaped, brown pomegranate juice bottles, is owned by marketer and entrepreneur Lynda Resnick and her husband. POM has been marketed as helping fight heart disease and erectile dysfunction.

Resnick incurred the wrath of the federal government for daring to stand on principle. Vladeck issued a statement about POM with what seems to be a mischaracterization of POM’s advertising, stating, “Any consumer who sees POM Wonderful products as a silver bullet against disease has been misled.”

Resnick didn’t back down, referring to Vladeck as having gone “crazy,” and saying, “The whole food industry is bullied by the FTC and the FDA.”

The holistic, health food industry has had a long uphill fight. In the 1970’s, the American Cancer Society called such approaches “quackery,” which may have contributed to people dying from ignorance of alternative health treatments. Now, even major health charities recognize the value of these alternative natural foods and processes.

The food fight between Palin and Obama, therefore, isn’t really about eating vegetables for good health. As Politico’s Ben Smith writes, Palin promoted healthy eating as a way to cut down on disease and childhood obesity during her 2009 State of the State address.

The real fight is how government will exercise control over how healthy, natural foods are promoted, and who does it. It seems Palin’s instincts are right on.

Mark J. Fitzgibbons is president of corporate and legal affairs at American Target Advertising, Inc.