You've reeled in disgust as governments target food trucks. You were aghast when the Food Safety Modernization Act put small farmers in its crosshairs. And you were outraged when we told you about USDA regulators shuttering an award-winning artisanal salumi maker. Just how far will the government go to intrude on your food freedom?
A new report released this week from Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin, Michael Bachmann, and the Institute for Justice shows how food producers across the U.S. are increasingly dealing with government officials who want to tell them what they grow, raise, sell and eat. The IJ report, The Attack on Food Freedom, outlines case after case of local, state and federal officials cracking down on farmers, chefs, grocers and other food artisans.
As Keep Food Legal and the report define it, “food freedom” is your right to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat and drink the foods you want. But government officials frequently pass laws that undermine the right of food entrepreneurs to earn an honest living. The report reveals that overzealous food safety regulations, pointless obstacles put in place by bureaucrats, and a “new” interpretation of public health that permits regulations for nearly any reason together threaten the livelihood of small food entrepreneurs.
The report also reveals that America's early history contained few if any restrictions on food freedom--after British rule that was increasingly rife with such restrictions. And when the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments ended the horror of slavery and guaranteed the rights of African Americans, food freedom expanded in scope as a result.
“This report demonstrates that food freedom is a vitally important part of America's history and that we’ve moved away from respecting that right,” said Linnekin. “I hope this report will spur legislators, regulators and courts at all levels of government and people from all political, ideological and dietary perspectives to recognize the importance of food freedom.”
Wisconsin Law Review Publishes Food Law & Policy Article Co-Authored by Keep Food Legal's Baylen Linnekin
The Wisconsin Law Review has just published Food Law & Policy: The Fertile Field's Origins & First Decade--an article co-authored by Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin and his colleague Emily Broad Leib, who founded and leads Harvard Law School's groundbreaking Food Law & Policy Clinic.
The article is the first to describe the history and development of the ten-year-old legal-academic field of Food Law & Policy. That field, as the authors define it, "is the study of the basis and impact of those laws and regulations that govern the entire 'food system'"--including not just federal laws and regulations but those at the state and local levels.
In what is likely a first for legal scholarship, the article also features a 7-minute video companion, which is directed by American University Prof. Leena Jayaswal and co-produced by Linnekin, Broad Leib, and Jayaswal. It features Linnekin, Broad Leib, and several of the key players in the development of Food Law & Policy--including Harvard Law Prof. Peter Barton Hutt; Drake Law Prof. Neil Hamilton, Arkansas Law Prof. Susan Schneider, and UCLA Law Prof. Michael Roberts.
"Food Law & Policy courses and scholarship focus on issues--including many of those that Keep Food Legal focuses on--like cottage food laws, farm subsidies, food trucks, and bans targeting foods like raw milk, foie gras, and soda," says Linnekin. "These courses often zero in on questions about why we have the food laws and regulations we do, and how those rules impact people."
As Linnekin and Broad Leib detail in the article, Food Law & Policy has been a growing and welcome addition at law schools around the country. A recent Harvard Law School publication noted, for example, that there is "no hotter topic in law schools right now than food law and policy."
As if to prove that point, Linnekin is also excited to announce that he will be teaching a 2-credit Food Law & Policy Seminar at George Mason University Law School this coming fall.
With this groundbreaking new article and video companion and the spread of law school courses focused on Food Law & Policy, the field will only continue to grow in scope and importance over the next decade.
As a variety of food issues around the country have heated up over the past month--from the battle in Washington over the USDA's failed school lunch program to the New York City's last-ditch effort to revive its soda ban--you may have noticed that Keep Food Legal has been all over the news in recent weeks.
Keep Food Legal executive director Linnekin spoke to Dennis Miller earlier this month, in one of his regular appearances on the iconoclastic star's popular, nationally syndicated radio show, about the soda ban and the school lunch fight.
That same week, Linnekin told Politico that "he would be 'stunned' if the state appeals court overturned the decision" of two lower courts in New York State that both rejected the soda ban.
Local NBC TV affiliates from Los Angeles to Connecticut to Mississippi recently featured our comments on a Center for Science in the Public Interest meeting that discussed ways to crack down soda consumption by targeting individual rights. Read more details--and our remarks--at the NBC News website.
Linnekin also recently sat down with Stossel host John Stossel and disucssed school lunches, the slanted Katie Court food documentary Fed Up, and the Founding Fathers' vision of food freedom on a segment of the popular Fox Business Channel TV show. View that clip below and here.
Keep up to date with breaking food freedom news and all of Keep Food Legal's media appearances by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. You can support our work advancing the cause of food freedom by donating today.