Keep Food Legal Comes to New Orleans

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.

If you're a New Orleans-area Keep Food Legal member or supporter and would like to meet up for happy hour on Thursday, contact us on Twitter or here at the Keep Food Legal website.

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.

After the panel, CLE attendees will enjoy lunch from three great New Orleans food trucks: Green to Go, Empanada Intifada, and Foodie Call.

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.

Tickets to Hungry in the South are $75 and include lunch at the excellent Root Restaurant.

Keep Food Legal Foundation Comments for Facebook Food Sales Story

Facebook foodEarlier this month, Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin sat down in the Washington, DC studio of Hearst Television to tape a segment on a current food trend in California, in which sales of foods via Facebook have become increasingly common (if still uncommon). The subsequent report aired recently on California television station KCRA.

From the transcript:

Keep Food Legal Foundation's Baylen Linnekin is an activist who has been pushing to ensure people have freedom to eat the foods they want.

"[People marketing food on Facebook] are not making a million dollars," Linnekin said. "It's not like they are suddenly becoming this baron of underground food in California. They are making a little bit here and a little bit there."

In other words, this is a small, local trend that's likely to stay small and local. Interestingly, the trend may have arisen due to the restrictive nature of California's cottage food law.

Unlike many state cottage food laws, which permit the sale of countless home-prepared foods--and which only bar sales of potentially hazardous foods--California's law enumerates a short list of foods people may sell and bans everything else. That's a tremendous shortcoming with the law, as Linnekin notes in the report.

"Kale chips for example. Potato chips. Not potentially hazardous, and yet not on the list," Linnekin said. "And so therefore, you can't sell them."

Watch the KCRA report here. And read Linnekin's 2011 Reason magazine print article on underground food sales via social media in New York City (specifically, lobster rolls and grilled cheese sandwiches) here.

Keep Food Legal Foundation's Baylen Linnekin Leads Local Food Producer Panel at Duke Law School Symposium

KFLF's Baylen Linnekin speaks at Duke Law SchoolLast week Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin was fortunate to take part in the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum's 25th anniversary symposium at Duke University Law School. Other speakers at the symposium included Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Me.), Prof. Michael Roberts of UCLA Law School's Resnick Program on Food Law & Policy, and Prof. Kelly Brownell, dean of Duke's school of public policy.

Linnekin led a panel discussion on local food production that featured owners of a local creamery, restaurant, farm, and meat purveyor. He kicked the panel off with a discussion of the book he's currently writing on food, sustainability, and regulations. The book explores how the latter so very often impacts sustainable food production negatively. In his brief remarks, Linnekin highlighted the story of chef Mark DeNittis, an award-winning, sustainable food producer in the Denver, CO area who was forced out of business by USDA regulators in 2012. The remainder of the lively panel took the form of a Q&A that focused on the ways that food regulations impact the local food producers on the panel.

While in Durham, Linnekin also visited and toured the Duke Campus Farm, a working farm on campus-owned property that is staffed by the university. In 2014, the campus farm faced an existential threat from rules proposed by the FDA under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Keep Food Legal Foundation's Baylen Linnekin Penning Book on Food, Sustainability, and Regulations

We are thrilled to inform our supporters that Keep Food Legal Foundation executive director Baylen Linnekin has signed an agreement with Island Press to write a book on food, sustainability, and government regulations.

The book, due to be completed in late 2015, discusses federal, state, and local laws and regulations that promote unsustainable practices (i.e., farm subsidies encouraging overuse of land and promoting food waste); prohibit sustainable food practices (i.e., food-safety regulations that impede or ban local animal slaughter); and prevent people from growing or obtaining food for themselves and their families (i.e., bans on keeping chickens or gardens on private property).

"Reducing the government’s regulatory footprint would help sustainable food options flourish," says Linnekin. "And by sustainable, I mean foods grown or produced using a set of practices that aspire to maximize the benefits of the food system while minimizing its negative impacts."

The book will draw from rich, real-world examples to illustrate why government must remove the shackles that bind America’s food system in order to ensure a more sustainable food future. Not surprisingly, given Keep Food Legal Foundation's work to protect an individual's right to make their own food choices, the book will discuss these issues through the lens of food freedom.

Island Press, founded in 1984, is a highly respected nonprofit publisher of environmentally themed books authored by a range of experts. It "works to provide the best ideas and information in the field to those seeking to understand and protect the environment and create solutions to its complex problems." Island Press authors include Pulitzer Prize winners E.O. Wilson and Dan Fagan and Pace University Law School Prof. Jason Czarnezki.

"I'm thrilled to work with Island Press and to write this book. I think it has great potential to have widespread impact--particularly by uniting people across typical political and ideological divides. Government rules make it more difficult for people of all stripes to make the food choices they want. That must change."

To celebrate this announcement, donors to Keep Food Legal Foundation who give at least $125 through the end of January will receive a signed copy of the published work, which will likely be issued in 2016.* You may make a donation to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Keep Food Legal Foundation--a donation that's tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law--by clicking here.

"We’ve piled regulations on top of regulations for decades-—often with disastrous consequences," says Linnekin, discussing one of the book's key themes. "In many ways, we’re further from a sustainable food system than we’ve ever been thanks to these food rules. It’s time to unchain America’s small farmers and food entrepreneurs."

We'll be sure to keep you posted on the book as events warrant. In the meantime, after you've donated, you may want to head on over to the Baltimore Sun to read Linnekin's 2011 op-ed on the need to end farm subsidies in order to ensure a more sustainable food future.

*Disclaimer: In the unlikely event of publication delays or other issues, we reserve the right to substitute a book of equal or lesser value.

Keep Food Legal's Baylen Linnekin Leads His Students on White House Kitchen Garden Tour

Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin recently took a group of his American University food policy undergraduate students to the White House for a tour of the White House Kitchen Garden. The hour-long tour, the last offered this season, featured discussion and a walk around both the White House garden the beehive.

The tour capped a semester in which Linnekin taught two separate food-policy short courses at American University and a semester-long Food Law & Policy Seminar at George Mason University Law School. The classes featured a host of guest lecturers whose expertise and views spanned the food spectrum. The diverse list of featured speakers included experts from the Institute for Justice, the Humane Society of the United States, National Geographic, the American Beverage Association, the office of Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), the Washington Post, and Politico. They discussed issues pertaining to food trucks, animal welfare laws, soda taxes, local foods, and working in (and writing about) food policy. In addition, students studied a variety of topics--including obesity, the Farm Bill, and food freedom.

"Together, these courses have helped introduce a new generation of students to a variety of perspectives on food policy," says Linnekin. "The opportunity to be exposed to a broad range of issues and opinions on food policies is something I wish I'd had as an undergraduate and law student. Wherever these bright and capable students take their knowledge is up to them."

Next semester, Linnekin will teach an undergraduate course on alcohol regulations, "The Drinking Age," at American University.

Keep Food Legal's Baylen Linnekin Supports Food Trucks in Fox Business Appearance

Earlier this month, Keep Food Legal executive director Baylen Linnekin appeared with host Kennedy on the Fox Business Channel show The Independents to discuss the often-difficult regulatory environment for food trucks. Click on the image below to watch the segment.

For see and read more about what Keep Food Legal has to say on food trucks, click here.

Keep Food Legal's Baylen Linnekin Authors New Report on Food Freedom

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.”

To download and read the report, go here. To obtain a free print copy of the report, please contact us here. To read some of our related publications, go here.