Top 10 Food Policy Success Stories of 2012

This year had its share of good news for supporters of food freedom.

While I often devote column inches to depressing food-policy news—be it crackdowns on small food producers, the spread of bad regulations, or the publication of yet another questionable food research study—this year had its share of good news for supporters of food freedom. With that in mind, here are 10 morsels of food-policy news I’ll look back on as having brightened my 2012.

1. Best Rallying Cry

Cheers in this (and only this) regard to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban, which is currently being challenged in court by a diverse group of local and national opponents: The mayor’s plan has united all sorts of strange bedfellows in opposition to its inane restrictions like no other food law before it.

In addition to restaurant, soda, and movie theater groups, other lawsuit plaintiffs include a local chapter of the Teamsters union and Latino and Korean-American business groups. This diverse group of plaintiffs isn’t the creation of some law firm. Rather, it’s further actualization of the already broad opposition to the ban—including writer and healthy-food advocate Bettina Siegel, Daily Show host Jon Stewart, Today Show anchor Matt Lauer, and the editors of The New York Times.

As someone who started a nonprofit, Keep Food Legal (along with the new Keep Food Legal Foundation), in order to unite people across party and ideological lines in the struggle for food freedom, Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban has been a particularly evocative example of how bad food regulations can galvanize and unite all types of people who may not agree on a host of other issues.

2. Best Lawsuit

While lawsuits over foie gras and soda bans elsewhere in the country are important and captured much attention, the best food-related lawsuit anywhere in the country this year is one launched by the ACLU of Pennsylvania against the city of Philadelphia over the City of Brotherly Love’s unconscionable ban on serving food to the homeless and less fortunate. This ban is but one of many similar bans around the country.

Those who chafe at bans on feeding the homeless and less fortunate echo the diverse and loose coalition that opposes Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban. Maybe that’s because Mayor Bloomberg’s own ban on feeding the homeless in New York City is essential, in his words, “because the city can’t assess the[] salt, fat and fiber content” of donated food.

3. Best Political Victory

Electoral victories by opponents of soda taxes in two California cities separated by hundreds of miles may—like other examples here—be a sign that a true food movement built on mutual respect for the right to make one’s own food choices may be coalescing across the country.

4. Best Local News

The continuing spread of state cottage food laws is a fantastic development for food freedom. California and Texas are two of the most recent of more than three-dozen states to adopt such laws, which help small startup food ventures operated out of the home opt out of the crushing regulations faced by restaurants and other food sellers.

And while cottage food laws aren’t perfect, they can provide a limited pathway for small entrepreneurs to build their presence in the marketplace and a safe way for new entrepreneurs to test out the market for their products.

5. Best National News

While raw milk is still under attack from the FDA and various state governments, 2012 was a banner year for those who support increasing the regulatory acceptance of raw milk. While there have been some weird setbacks for the movement, there are reasons to be optimistic. A California dairy owner sued the FDA last week. The agency, meanwhile, claims it won’t enforce its ban against individual buyers. And more and more states appear at least to be considering bills like this one that would legalize the sale of raw milk within their own borders.

6. Best Bet for Victory in 2013

Based on my reading of California’s foie gras ban, the lawsuit challenging the ban should be a slam dunk for supporters of food freedom. And, depending on how the case is argued and won, victory in the foie gras case could resonate across the country.

7. Best Column

James King of the Village Voice deserves credit for penning a great column in which he lays waste to the offensive and idiotic name-calling of a Gawker blogger who rants against opponents of Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban.

8. Best Conference

The Institute for Justice Clinic for Entrepreneurship at University of Chicago School of Law hosted a fantastic conference earlier this year in support of the rights of food truck operators in the city. The My Streets My Eats conference, held in a city with some of the nation’s worst food truck laws, featured some of the most knowledgeable speakers on food truck issues from around the country, along with great food provided by the city’s food trucks. I was fortunate to take part in the conference. In a welcome sign of the conference’s importance and impact, IJ eventually sued the city of Chicago over its lousy food truck rules in a lawsuit that is still ongoing.

9. Best Use of Social Media

Within days of the USDA’s new school lunch rules debuting in August, students around the country were in open revolt. They challenged the quality, cost, and—particularly—the quantity of food they were being served under the new rules. One group of students in Kansas captured the problems with new rules in a viral YouTube video, We Are Hungry. More than a million views later, the video had helped to change the USDA’s policy, which has been modified and will now permit students to eat more food.

10. My Greatest Flub

While other readers might be quick to point out a mistake I made in one of my columns this year, looking over my own columns I think the most obvious occurs where I direct readers in a piece on California’s foie gras ban to read “the ‘Bird Feeding Law’ (the official name of the ‘foie gras ban’).” That would be nice and useful were it not for the fact the law is actually titled “Force Fed Birds.”

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  • Rick Santorum||

    Picture needs alt-text badly. I'm thinking "Obama Sippin'."

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    "Moments later NYPD siezed dozens of dangerous assault beverages."

  • ||

    "Following this, NYPD confiscated their doughnuts in asset forfeiture."

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    Nice!

  • waaminn||

    Oh wow, very cool indeed. I like the sound of that. Wow.

    www.Anon-its.tk

  • ||

    Needs more Wows. And misspells.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    I love it. Mr. TKWowWow up there posts without a problem but the spam filter didn't like it when I tried to post "For the rest of us" all crammed into one word.

  • ||

    I know. What's even worse is that is Pedo-Bot.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Alt-text: Mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down with?

    These are all very encouraging stories. Yet, I'm discouraged that we even have to discuss food "policy" at all. IT'S FOOD. The only policy should be which food am I hungry for?

    I don't need the government to assist/defend me in these matters.

    Happy New Year Reasonoids! I'm off to Las Vegas to gamble on football!

  • ||

    "I don't need the government to assist/defend me in these matters."

    Clearly you havent read enough Drew Magary.

    That is one world class douchebag.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    I don't need the government to assist/defend me in these matters.

    But who will think of the children!

  • ||

    Pedo-Bot, for one.

  • Ted S.||

    Am I missing something, or was the picture taken down? I'm not getting any illustration accompanying the article.

  • John||

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/a.....-guns.html

    Mrs. Suderman takes apart the idea of mandatory liability insurance for gun owners and inspires a vortex of stupid in the Huffpo comments.

  • John||

    Or daily beast comments. I lose track of my hack publications.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    This truly is the only bastion of sane comments on the intertubes.
    Known miscreants aside, that is.

  • ||

    I prefer the term "hooligans", myself.

  • Sevo||

    Dunno, some aren't bad:
    "Democrats are the main reason space aliens HOVER and do NOT land on this planet. Space aliens listen to democrats for 29 seconds, take one look at their abusive, bullying ways, endless yammering and conclude there is no intelligent life on this rock."

  • Thane of Whiterun||

    To my simpleton mind, it seems like it would be much simpler and more effective to pass legislation holding sellers liable for crimes committed with firearms they (knowingly) illegally transfer to another party.

  • Juice||

    You mean McCardle?

  • ||

    No, you mean...McArdle.-D

    joe'z Law striketh!

  • mnarayan||

    I assume you continue to hate her?

  • nicole||

    Number one [it will simply raise the cost of owning guns to the point where people aren't willing to do it] is unfair to advocates of stronger gun control, most of whom say that they do not want to take all guns away from law abiding citizens. I see no reason to doubt them, and so I'm basically discounting any interpretation of this proposal that seems like it would just raise the cost of guns until they were unaffordable for all but the very wealthy.

    Facepalm.

  • SIV||

    I forget to wish all my cosmotarian brothers a Happy Kwanzaa. Today is Ujamaa: cooperative economics day. I sure hope y'all enjoyed the "collective responsibility" of Ujima yesterday!

  • Virginian||

    lol Kwanzaa

    I bet there are more people celebrating Festivus then Kwanzaa.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    For the rest of us!

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    And now it's time for the airing of grievances.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    While lawsuits over foie gras and soda bans elsewhere in the country are important and captured much attention, the best food-related lawsuit anywhere in the country this year is one launched by the ACLU of Pennsylvania against the city of Philadelphia over the City of Brotherly Love’s unconscionable ban on serving food to the homeless and less fortunate. This ban is but one of many similar bans around the country.

    A perfect example of the government crowding out private solutions to social problems, then demanding more resources because the free market didn't work.

    I NEVER donate money to any organization because I know that good chunks of that money never make it where it needs to go. I will, however, give THINGS to either groups or individuals because those things can't be skimmed.

    Give money to organization claiming to help poor kids have a nice Xmas? Fuck you. Give a toy? Sure.

    Give money to homeless organization for food? Fuck you. Buy a homeless guy a sandwich and a coke? Sure.

    When government prohibits direct solutions to problems, we all lose.

  • John||

    http://www.thompsons.law.co.uk.....tients.htm

    Basic errors killing 1000 NHS patients a month a study has revealed

    England really is just a hell hole these days.

  • ||

    "BUT...BUT...FREE MEDICAL CARE FOR ALL!!!!!"

    /Tony

  • Mensan||

    15-Year Old Shoots Home Invaders With Dad's "Assault Rifle"
    Dianne Feinstein wishes the boy had been defenseless.

    (Apologies if this has already been on H&R, I've been working a lot and haven't been on here much lately.)

  • John||

    Didn't he know his job is to die so liberals can feel better about themselves?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Well, he was the son of a cop.

    Obviously, he should have known that the best course of action was to call the police--and then throw himself (and his sister) at the mercy of the home invaders.

    Now two people have been shot!

    Oh, and his dad's a cop and keeps an assault rifle at home for protection?! Being a cop, his father should have known that there's no need for anything more than a 38 revolver, maybe. ...plus whatever you use for hunting rabbits.

    Obviously, he and his father should both be arrested. Somebody's gotta protect home invaders from assault weapons--and who better than Barack Obama?

  • Juice||

    He could have done that with a more constitutional muzzle loading musket. Piers Morgan told me so.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Interesting too that one of them was shot multiple times, and they both still survived to drive themselves to the hospital.

    I'm not sure that's supposed to be possible in Piers Morgan's universe. In Piers Morgan's universe, AR-15s blow up everything they hit like in a Michael Bay flick.

  • mtrueman||

    "New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban"

    He banned soda? Any links to this?

  • Agreenweed||

    It's a ban on soda over 16 Ozzie. I can't tell if you're being a smart ass or not.

  • Agreenweed||

    Oz. damnit iPhone spell check.

  • ||

    Which reminds me, I wonder how IFH is doing this holiday?

  • mtrueman||

    The writer referred at least 3 times to New York's 'soda ban,' but soda was not banned. Hence the lack of links.

    Sorry to be such a 'smart ass' about this. Next time I will follow everyone else here and fall into line when the next writer twists the truth to make some tendentious point.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Granny Cheekbones is on the warpath for gun control.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....n-control#

  • An0nB0t||

    My goal for the next four years is to never hear or read a complete sentence from the mouths of Obama or his little yapping, fascist, Native American attack dog who hails from the Kremlin on the Charles.

    Like Steve McQueen says, so far, so good.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't think we should refer to her as a Native American until the official representatives of the Cherokee start calling her a Native American, which, last I heard, they refused to do.

    Until that changes, all news agencies should refrain from referring to Liz Warren as a Native American--or apologize to the Cherokee for doing so.

  • An0nB0t||

    For my part, I apologize to both Native Americans and attack dogs for my comment.

  • Mike E||

    Why would I buy an E-Book of interviews that are all posted on this website for free? Just look in the archives. It is the same reason I let my Reason subscription lapse, just wait a few weeks and it is all on the website.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The Reason Foundation is a charitable organization.

    I send them money because I like there being a libertarian voice in the media and online.

    If some people send them money because Reason offers something convenient, like an e-book, then that's great.

    But I give them money because nobody makes the libertarian case to the general public better than Reason does.

    Check out this link:

    https://www.reason.com/donatenow/donate.php

    If you want to help the libertarian cause, it's probably more effective than voting.

  • SIV||

    Then Robert Poole takes the money and uses it to agitate for turning already built with taxpayer money roads into public corruption/crony-capitalist public-private partnership high-occupancy toll lanes. IIRC, he also told the City of Atlanta to build new roads underground.Then there is the Emily Ekins transportation planning push polling...

  • Ken Shultz||

    The best thing about being libertarian is that we don't have to agree on everything--if you want to be a Democrat, right now, you have to agree with Barack Obama.

    I confess I am not familiar with the details of either of those two situations you're talking about, but I'd wager they're both about doing things incrementally more libertarian.

    Chances are that when libertarian things happen, they happen incrementally. Drug legalization is probably an excellent example. You start with advocacy; you graduate to medical marijuana; when the world as we know it doesn't end becasue of that, some states start legalizing it recreationally...

    If we insist on 100% libertarian solutions and only 100% libertarian solutions before we'll support them, we'd probably never achieve anything. If some Reasonoid out there is saying that instead of a 100% government solution, Americans should try a solution that's 20% libertarian instead? Then I'm all for it.

    We take what the market for ideas will give us--realizing that Reason is one of the few entities in the world that's actually increasing the size of the market for libertarian ideas.

  • Mike M.||

    T-Minus three days until Taxey New Year.

  • Disgusted Dem||

    I certainly hope there is a trend to put a stop to all these food laws. Though I certainly would not bet against the creation of Alton Brown's version of the food police with helicopters, spot lights, and bullhorns. "Alton Brown, this is the Food Police! Stop what you're doing!"

  • Ken Shultz||

    Food laws really are the best examples of nanny statism.

    It really is like a nanny telling you what you can and can't eat.

    Food laws should always be appalling to adults on their face.

  • sloopyinca||

    There's no such thing as a "food policy" success story since by definition food policies are unlibertarian hogwash.

    Good day, Mr Linnekin

  • Searchub||

    If some people send them money because Reason offers something convenient, like an e-book, then that's great.Check out my search engine
    http://www.searchub.com

  • دردشة العراق||

    thank you

  • sohbet||

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  • sohbet siteleri||

    The mayor’s plan has united all sorts of strange bedfellows in opposition to its inane restrictions like no other food law before it. Sohbet - Chat

  • sohbet siteleri||

    And more and more states appear at least to be considering bills like this one that would legalize the sale of raw milk within their own borders. Sohbet - Sohbet Odaları

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    New York City is essential, in his words. Sohbet Siteleri - Chat Siteleri

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    own food choices may be coalescing across the country.Güzel Sözler - Şarkı Sözleri

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    0 morsels of food-policy news I’ll look back on as having brightened my 2012.Sohbet - Chat

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    Reason is one of the few entities in the world that's actually increasing the size of the market for libertarian ideas.Mynet Sohbet - Mynet Sohbet

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    a sign that a true food movement built on mutual respect for the right to make one’s own food choices may be coalescing across the country. Film izle - Dizi izle

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    and so I'm basically discounting any interpretation of this proposal that seems like. Sohbet - Sohbet Odaları

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    IIRC, he also told the City of Atlanta to build new roads underground. Oyun - Mirc indir

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    A California dairy owner sued the FDA last week. Rüya Tabirleri - Yemek Tarifleri

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