Later this week Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin will travel from Washington, DC to New Orleans, home of great food and drink, to take part in two panels as part of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum's annual symposium. This is the second year in a row that Linnekin has made the trip to New Orleans to take part in this great SoFAB event.
On Friday, Linnekin will serve as moderator for an exciting panel on the regulatory climate for food trucks as part of SoFAB's continuing legal education (CLE) seminar Food, Drink, and the Law. The panel, Improving the Regulatory Climate for Food Trucks, features three fantastic speakers: Doug Povich, J.D., member of the board of directors of the DC Food Truck Association and co-owner of DC's Red Hook Lobster Pound food truck; Andrew Legrand, J.D., managing member of Andrew Legrand Law and co-founder of the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition; and Bert Gall, Senior Attorney with the Institute for Justice.
More on the CLE panel:
As food trucks have exploded in popularity, cities around the country have adopted different regulatory strategies pertaining to these mobile vendors. Some cities have imposed dramatic and unfair restrictions on food trucks, while other cities have embraced the trend and witnessed the attendant rewards—from increased food choices and quality to national and even worldwide acclaim. This panel of nationally recognized legal experts will explore the regulatory climate pertaining to food trucks in New Orleans and beyond and propose solutions that can help the Big Easy and other cities capitalize on the trend.
Tickets to the CLE (a daylong event featuring many other legal experts that fulfills a mandatory professional development requirement for many attorneys) are $165 and are available here.
Then, on Saturday, Linnekin will moderate a panel on food and social media as part of SoFAB's annual daylong Hungry in the South symposium. The panel, How Social Media Is Changing The Way We Eat, "will explore various ways that this change is happening across a variety of food and beverage industry sectors." The panel will allow Linnekin the opportunity to discuss the American University undergraduate class--Foodways 2.0--that he designed and is teaching this semester. This panel, like the earlier CLE panel, features a great set of panelists including Red Hook Lobster Pound's Povich; Christophe Jammet of Sparkify; and Mike Lee of StudioFeast and Bond Strategy & Influence.
Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin is excited to speak this Wednesday at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, thanks to an invitation from Cornell's Department of Politics and the Berry Center for Economics, Business, and Public Policy. This will be Linnekin's first-ever trip to Iowa.
In his lecture, Food Freedom, Linnekin will discuss his groundbreaking research into the forgotten role that struggles over food rights between the American colonists and their British rulers played in shaping the Revolutionary War, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights--and the significant legal and historical implications of that history. The issue is particularly relevant today because government officials increasingly refer to the Founding Fathers--incorrectly, Linnekin argues--to support their claims that food freedom is not a vital part of this nation's history and traditions.
"It's become quite fashionable to claim that the Founding Fathers were somehow silent on the issue of food freedom," says Linnekin. "In fact, the American Revolution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights arose directly out of anti-British struggles for food freedom on the part of the Founding Fathers and everyday colonists alike."
Linnekin argues that his historical research into the Founding Era serves as a historical basis to establish a new and lasting period of food freedom in America--something that is at the heart of Keep Food Legal's mission.
"When the FDA tells a farmer he has no right to milk his own cow while claiming that's exactly what the Founding Fathers would have done, or when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrongly invokes the Founding Fathers to defend his soda ban, it's important to reveal just how wrong they are," says Linnekin. "It's also important to use historical facts to demonstrate that food freedom is a vital part of America's past, present, and future, rather than some wishful invention of modern activists."
In addition to his lecture at the Berry Center, Linnekin will also visit one of the college's classrooms and lecture on the role social entrepreneurship can and does play in helping shape and reform contemporary food policy. He'll also have lunch with faculty and students.
In AEI Panel Appearance, Keep Food Legal Pushes Back Against Crony Capitalism in Food and Agriculture
Last week Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin took part in a lively panel discussion on crony capitalism in food and agriculture at the American Enterprise Institute.
As Linnekin defines the term, crony capitalism means that a food business’s success is often wrongly contingent upon the business maintaining a close relationship with legislators and regulators.
The panel was moderated by Washington Examiner columnist and AEI visiting fellow Tim Carney, and served as the inaugural event for AEI’s new Culture of Competition Project.
In addition to Linnekin, the panel featured fellow panelists (and fellow attorneys) Doug Povich, co-owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound food truck in Washington, DC, and Emily Broad Leib, who leads Harvard Law School’s great Food Law and Policy Clinic in Cambridge, MA.
"I’d previously sat on respective panels with Povich and Broad Leib," says Linnekin, "and greatly admire their respective work to defend and strengthen the rights of small food entrepreneurs."
Carney, likewise, was very pleased with the panel.
"I think the panel addressed a swath of issues where government intervention diminishes freedom, choice, and competition in the world of food," he says.
In Linnekin's remarks, which he called America’s Cronycopia, he discussed the frequent difficulties that exist in definitively identifying the phenomenon—which, after all, is hidden and often the result of phone calls and backroom dealings of which journalists and the public have little or no direct knowledge.
Linnekin's talk focused largely on farm subsidies—including new data he presented on how Red (GOP) states receive an inordinate share of these USDA handouts—which should be abolished in all forms immediately (regardless of whether they’re doled out proportionately, or whether Red or Blue states benefit most, or which food producers benefit or don't benefit from them).
You can read Linnekin's account of the panel in his latest Reason column.
Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin has appeared recently in a variety of media outlets to share our stance on many of the more controversial food issues today.
For example, Linnekin appeared on BBC Radio (audio starts at about 28:30) this week to discuss the state of the U.S. food safety system in the face of an ongoing scandal involving the misbranding of meat--in this case horsemeat being sold as ground beef--across the European Union. And earlier this month, a column by Linnekin critical of the FDA's newly proposed food safety rules appeared at Food Safety News, a leading food safety website. The column's fact-based criticism of the FDA's costly but ineffective proposals so riled many regulatory cheerleaders that it led Food Safety News to print a response by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)--a multi-million-dollar interest group that advocates for dramatic increases in food regulations at all levels of government.
Because new soda taxes and bans seemingly are proposed on a weekly basis, Linnekin also appeared on News/Talk 760 WJR (audio runs about 10-1/2 minutes) in Detroit to present our arguments against a petition to the FDA by CSPI urging the agency to place a hard cap on the amount of sweetener that can appear in beverages. He also appeared on WVMT NewsTalk 620 in Vermont to discuss Keep Food Legal's opposition to a potential soda tax in the state. (See more on that story--including our written testimony before the Vermont legislature--in the blog post at left.)
Other media appearances have focused on a variety of issues--including everything from the popular Dodge "God Made a Farmer" Super Bowl commercial (which Linnekin discussed in his weekly Reason column) and an appearance on New York University's WNYU radio to discuss the unintended consequences of farm subsidies.
Stay tuned--quite literally--for more from Keep Food Legal! And make sure to follow us on Twitter, where we always announce our scheduled media appearances before they happen.
Last week Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin appeared on the evening newscasts of Washington, DC's ABC and Fox affiliates. Linnekin was critical of two proposals that would restrict access to soda and other sweetened beverages in the District under the guise of combating obesity.
One proposal, floated by DC council member Mary Cheh, would attach an excise tax to purchases of soda. Critics--including Linnekin--have long argued that data does not support such a tax. The other, suggested by two other council members, would be modeled after New York City's wrongheaded and illegal ban on subjectively "large" portion sizes.
In his two television appearances, Linnekin argued on behalf of Keep Food Legal and its member and supporters in the District that enactment of these proposals would serve as little more than a tax increase on low-income consumers (who drink soda at higher rates than do middle- and upper-income consumers) that would not improve anyone's health. Furthermore, since obesity rates have been rising even as soda consumption has fallen over the past decade, the claimed causal connection for these taxes and bans simply does not exist, a point Linnekin made in his remarks on ABC affiliate WJLA:
Baylen Linnekin of the group “Keep Food Legal” says the District shouldn’t legislate what people should and shouldn’t eat or drink.
“Consumption rates of sweet drinks have been going down for a decade and yet obesity has been going up. Soda isn’t the culprit,” says Linnekin.
His Fox 5 comments focused on the rights of consumers to make their own decisions.
"It all boils down to food freedom of choice. It's not up to government to tell us what we should eat and shouldn't eat."
Read more about Keep Food Legal's efforts to promote beverage freedom of choice here.
Last week Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin was a guest on To the Point, a popular, issues-driven, nationally syndicated public-radio program. Linnekin appeared on the show, hosted by Warren Olney and produced jointly by KCRW in Santa Monica and Public Radio International, to discuss with Olney and several well-known experts the issue of whether government can control obesity.
From the show's description:
The agriculture industry has made food so cheap and so plentiful that one third of Americans are obese and another third overweight. Twenty six million people have Type 2 Diabetes, with 79 million more on the way. With a major push from First Lady Michelle Obama, the federal school lunch program has been revised to limit the intake of calories, require whole grains and double the serving of fruits and vegetables. New York's Mayor Bloomberg has banned extra-large soft drinks. With predictions that half the country will be obese by 2030, it's all about controlling a spreading pandemic. But there's also a backlash. Students and teachers in Kansas went on YouTube singing, “We are Hungry." A Republican Congressman has introduced the No Hungry Kids Act. Is it necessary for government to police the diets of America's children? Will it work? Is the Nanny State just going too far?
Linnekin's fellow panelists included Marion Nestle of New York University, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Monica Eng of the Chicago Tribune.
"From a legal perspective, I think the problem is that the USDA is both promoting agriculture and agribusiness--usually big, corporate agribusiness--while at the same time trying to design a one-size-fits-all menu for American schoolkids," says Linnekin. "It's impossible to design thoughtfully a menu that can appeal to a football player, to a kid who doesn't get enough to eat at home, to someone who eats vegan, who eat kosher, who eats halal. That sort of approach is a ludicrous attempt to micromanage, and it's bound to fail."
Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin appeared on the new Huffington Post channel HuffPost Live last week to talk with host Janet Varney about food truck regulations around the country. Appearing alongside Linnekin in the segment were Natasha Case of Coolhaus Ice Cream Truck in Los Angeles, budding food truck entrepreneur Jeff Feldman of St. Louis, and Dave Andelman of Boston's Phantom Gourmet.
Linnekin pushed back against Andelman's arbitrary and protectionist call for a ban on food trucks parking within 1,000 feet of any Boston brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Watch the video below.