Don’t miss what Rachel Laudan has to say about the deprecation of industrially produced food in favor of all that is thought to be artisanal, local, seasonal, traditional, and natural. It’s full of policy implications and makes a super-useful gloss on the work of writers like Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman. [Jacobin] She’s also interviewed at shorter length by Todd Kliman at Washingtonian.
Don’t count on donuts, frozen pizza, coffee creamers, or canned cinnamon rolls to go on tasting the same — and don’t count on the federal government to respect your choices in the matter [Peter Suderman, earlier] And of course it was public health advocates and the federal government who helped push foodmakers into the use of trans fats in the first place. Some choices do remain to you in the realm of food, so say yes to Mark Bittman’s red lentil dal, no to his politics [Julie Kelly and Jeff Stier, Forbes]
- If the law was symbolic, consumers were apparently unswayed by its symbolism: L.A. zoning ban on new freestanding fast-food restaurants had no effect on obesity [The Guardian, NPR, Baylen Linnekin, earlier]
- More on draft new federal dietary guidelines: “Report lays groundwork for food ‘interventionists’ in schools, workplaces” [Sarah Westwood, Washington Examiner, earlier, public comment open through April 8]
- Opposition to GMOs is not humanitarian [Telegraph] Washington Post editorial rejects labeling on GMO foods;
- Baker fell afoul of French law by keeping his boulangerie open too often [Arbroath]
- A sentiment open to doubt: “There is a great need for lawyers to utilize their policy and litigation tools in the fight for a better food system.” [Melanie Pugh, Food Safety News]
- “Food policy” progressives “whistle same tune as large food producers on issue of food safety” [Baylen Linnekin, related on single-agency scheme, more Linnekin on competition-through-regulation among makers of wine corks]
- Why restaurant operators need to know about patent trolls [James Bickers, Fast Casual]
571 pages of urgings from the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, so much to disagree with [Elizabeth Harrington, Washington Free Beacon (obesity “interventionists” at workplaces, initiatives to limit advertising and time spent looking at screens); Glenn Lammi; Julie Gunlock; Paul C. (“Chip”) Knappenberger, Cato (environmental impacts of food production)]
More: “Strategies are needed to encourage the U.S. population to drink water when they are thirsty.” [from the report, quoted approvingly (naturally) by NYT’s Mark Bittman, via James Taranto] And Baylen Linnekin: “Consumers can also have their say through April 8. Open your mouth before the DGAC shuts it for you.”
They’re finally letting the egg back into the good graces of government nutritionism, long after it had become clear that the cholesterol scare was unfounded [Washington Post] Again and again, health guidelines promoted by Washington have pushed Americans from safer toward less safe food choices, and from long-familiar foods that came to seem too rich or indulgent (butter, animal fat) toward alternatives about which far less is known. [Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week] More: “Worth remembering that, if they had the power in the 1980s, the public health lobby would have forced us to eat a diet they now say is bad.” — @cjsnowdon
However bad a nutritionist Uncle Sam may be, of course, he is unlikely ever to be as bad as the science-impaired, self-proclaimed Food Babe Vani Hari [The Atlantic (“There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever.”), Orac/Respectful Insolence, Advertising Age, earlier] If only the public health establishment worked as hard to counteract the notions spread by Hari as it does to inscribe whatever its current set of food enthusiasms may be into coercive government policy! More: Michelle Francl, Slate.
P.S. At Scott Greenfield’s suggestion:
A refreshingly candid label on Gringo Bandito sauce: “Hot Sauce really doesn’t have nutritional value. It’s vinegar and peppers, for God’s sake. What did you expect? Why are you even trying to determine the nutritional value of hot sauce? Just enjoy it!” [via Google Images and Hot Sauce Blog, which transcribes the whole “warning”] (& welcome Investor’s Business Daily readers)
- Why British pubs are in decline [new Institute of Economic Affairs report from Christopher Snowdon]
- After legal battle with chicken chain, Vermont man wins “Eat More Kale” trademark [AP, earlier here, etc.]
- “Why D.C. Breweries Say They’re Drowning In Red Tape” [Rebecca Sheir, WAMU] Pennsylvania: “Cops Seized Couple’s $160,000 Wine Collection – And Want to Destroy It All” [Baylen Linnekin]
- More on FDA calorie-labeling mandate for restaurants and food servers [Sarah Kliff, Vox (“way more aggressive than expected”); Steve Chapman, Jacob Sullum, Danny Vinik, New Republic on the lack of evidence in their favor; Jason Stverak, Providence Journal on the costs; Cass Sunstein via Althouse in favor; earlier here, etc.]
- Opponent seeks sanctions over attempt to turn “meritless snack food labeling action into the Second Peloponnesian War” [Daniel Fisher]
- “A Trademark Year in Wine and Beer: Our 2014 Holiday Buyer’s Guide to Disputed Beverages” [David Kluft, Foley Hoag]
- Roundup of reactions (including ours) to Boston professor’s fateful tussle with Chinese restaurant [National Post, earlier]
Another hidden gift inside the Affordable Care Act: mandatory calorie labeling for many restaurant menus. Walter Olson comments on the complications and potential unintended consequences of such a mandate.
My new Cato podcast: the new FDA calorie labeling rules apply to not-so-big chains (20 +) of grocery stores and amusement facilities as well as restaurants, and make it less likely that servers and local managers will manage to vary from rigidly standardized recipes, menu listings and portion sizes based on knowledge of their local customers, temporary availability of attractive ingredients, and so forth. That won’t matter much for food servers who already design their offerings in a lab, but spells trouble for those whose offerings are more localized or unpredictable (earlier). Coverage by Ed Morrissey of what the scheme would mean for a 21-unit pizza chain is linked here.
In January, David Boaz commented on the parallel vending machine calorie label mandate:
In my experience, vending machines shuffle their offerings fairly frequently. If the machine operators have to change the calorie information displayed every time they swap potato chips for corn chips, then $2,200 [per operator per year] seems like a conservative estimate of costs. But then, as Hillary Clinton said when it was suggested that her own health care plan would bankrupt small businesses, “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized small business in America.”
More: Baylen Linnekin. And Julie Gunlock recalls her own days working in a supermarket deli. Goodbye, making up prepared salads in single-serving containers from whatever produce happened to be in overstock at the time. Hello, food waste!
- Sugar, tea, fish and game, public houses: food freedom grievances helped fuel America’s revolution against Britain [Baylen Linnekin]
- Colorado, Oregon voters consider GMO labeling, which “likely will mislead more than inform.” [David Orentlicher, Health Law Prof and more] “Say No to GMO Labeling, Even If It Feels Terrible” [alt-weekly Portland Mercury; earlier on GMOs]
- “White House Boosts Fictional ‘Food Addiction’ Concept to School Kids” [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
- D.C. Circuit: immigration law doesn’t block specialized Brazilian steakhouse chefs from coming to U.S. [Joe Palazzolo, WSJ Law Blog]
- “Why Is the USDA Buying Submachine Guns?” [Modern Farmer]
- Little evidence new FDA food labeling rules will improve health [Robert Scharff and Sherzod Abdukadirov/Regulation mag, more] Flaws of agency’s “added sugar” labeling proposal [Glenn Lammi, WLF]
- California tries to dictate standards for raising animals in other states; do you think the Constitution might have something to say about that? [Linnekin]
- Our posts on the closure of California’s Westover Winery following punitive fines for letting customers volunteer continue to draw interesting comments, including one from a reader identifying himself as William Smyth, owner of the winery;
- FDA comes out with revised proposed FSMA rules, a preliminary look [AP] Agency only partially backs off restrictions on use of spent brewing grains as animal feed [Elizabeth Brown/Reason, WLF, earlier]
- “Cottage food” law success: “Texans Created Over A Thousand Local Businesses After Texas Eased Restrictions On Selling Food” [Nick Sibilla, IJ/Forbes]
- Artisanal salami maker eventually managed to persuade FDA that it should be permitted to ferment product at 72 degrees as the Italians do [WaPo] Craft sausage startup in Detroit “sort of operated under ‘do-things-until-you-get-caught” [Metro Times]
- Does drinking diet soda make you fat? [Daniel Engber, Slate]
- Kalona, Iowa maker of squeaky cheese curds cites mounting regulatory costs in decision to close (via Julie Gunlock) [Cedar Rapids Gazette]
- Bee colonies getting sick: indictment of modern humanity’s interaction with nature? [Timothy Taylor, Conversable Economist]