The sale of live seafood, common in Chinese food markets, can collide with blanket state regulation of wildlife sales. Virginia, for example, classifies as wildlife any animals not appearing on a list of domestic animals, even if they are raised on farms and have never lived in the wild. While the Virginia suburbs of D.C. have won fame as a hot spot for admirers of Asian food, the selection got somewhat narrower last year with the confiscation of eels, crayfish, bullfrogs and other critters from the Great Wall supermarket. Two store managers were hit with felony charges. [NY Times, Washington Post]
No, this isn’t the first time the fashionable, First-Lady-approved theory has been debunked — see posts here, here, and here — but it’s gratifying to see the NYT’s formidable Gina Kolata get front-page space for a thorough treatment. One study found poor neighborhoods “had nearly twice as many supermarkets and large-scale grocers per square mile” as wealthier ones; another “found no relationship between what type of food students said they ate, what they weighed, and the type of food within a mile and a half of their homes.” [Tyler Cowen, Jacob Sullum] And Katherine Mangu-Ward notes the juxtaposition of Kolata’s piece with an opinion piece in the paper the very same day: “Food Deserts Are Not Real. Also, We Can Fix Them.”
While on the subject of hamburgers, Adam Ozimek takes on the sentimental sloganeering about “pink slime” and makes the case for getting more food out of each cow, quite aside from the safety advantages of the stuff.
Commenter Jesse Spurway: “I guess head cheese and scrapple are next on the hit list.” More: Andrew Revkin, NYT; Greg Conko, CEI.
Meet the meddlers: officials from California to Gotham to London who believe that so long as we remain free to smoke, drink and consume potato chips in the privacy of our home, “government isn’t doing its job.” [Gene Healy, Examiner]
P.S. As readers rightly point out, the post should have noted that the speaker quoted in the headline was referring to the subsidized food stamp program, not the same thing as restricting consumer access to foods generally (though some “food policy” buffs certainly do favor the latter.)
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offers no apologies for what might seem a disturbing breach of the principle that taxpayer funds should not go to lobbying [Caroline May, Daily Caller] Earlier on the oughta-be-controversial federal food-policy grant program here, here, etc. More: Abby Schachter on CDC’s Thomas Frieden [NY Post].
At the New York Times, Mark Bittman has proved a durable source of entertainment twice over, first as a purveyor of recipes with a high hit rate of being worth trying, and more recently with a laughably paternalistic opinion column. [David Boaz/Cato, Damon Root/Reason, earlier]
Some things about the nationwide settlement — including a prospective $3.75-million attorneys’ fee for prosecuting a “truly BS claim” against the maker of the chocolate-nut spread over nutritional disclosures — stick in Russell Jackson’s craw. He doesn’t care for the separate, California-specific scoopful either (earlier here, etc.)
Dan Charles at NPR reports on how parts of the media joined in last month to hype a report by journalist Andrew Schneider in Food Safety News raising alarms about the safety and authenticity of honey. (Similarly: Maggie Koerth-Baker, BoingBoing). “It sounded so right, plenty of people decided that it just had to be true. … But then we decided to look into it a little more closely. We talked to honey companies, academic experts, and one of the world’s top honey laboratories in Germany. The closer we looked, the more misleading the story in Food Safety News seemed.”
My Cato colleague Sallie James was among the few to take a skeptical tone about the Schneider allegations when they first hit the press. And as NPR points out, Food Safety News is part of the sprawling new media empire of Bill Marler, the very media-savvy food poisoning lawyer whose Marler Clark law firm has done much to sway press discussion of many food safety issues. On a different topic, did Marler really say the other day that raw milk farmers should count themselves lucky they’re not put to death?
Beyond satire: “Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month. …NHS health guidelines state clearly that drinking water helps avoid dehydration, and that Britons should drink at least 1.2 litres per day.” [Telegraph] A writer in the Guardian defends the ban.
The promotional claims that General Mills makes about its snack product seem to be accurate enough, but the busybody Center for Science in the Public Interest says the company should be calling attention to other, less positive nutritional facts too. Stephen Richer wonders whether dating profiles are going to have to begin listing the candidate’s less appealing qualities. [WLF Legal Pulse]
Even as odd lawsuit stories go, this underexplained little account of a product liability claim in Canada stands out. Conceding that having to pick gum out of one’s dentures is not plausibly deserving of C$100,000, does the plaintiff at least deserve points for honesty in averring that her depression lasted only ten minutes? [Edmonton Sun]
The Food and Drug Administration substantially restricts food companies’ freedom to promote their wares as not-genetically-modified, although quite a lot of grocery shoppers are (perhaps misguidedly) interested in making product decisions on that basis. Thom Lambert at Truth on the Market detects the symptoms of regulatory “capture.”