Food Policy

Last (and Next) Year in Food Policy

A handful of food policy cognoscenti discuss the top food policy issues of 2014 and predict what might happen in 2015.

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Food
USDA

Supporters of food freedom had a number of reasons to be happy in 2014. The defeat of GMO-labeling ballot measures and the repeal of a California law that required chefs to wear gloves are but two examples.

They also had a good number of reasons to pine for the year's end. A renewed push in cities around the country to prohibit people from sharing food with the homeless and less fortunate is perhaps the most egregious example.

My own columns in 2014 focused on the good and bad, and discussed a broad range of issues—everything from municipal rules pertaining to food trucks to the possibility of revising federal raw milk laws. I even wrote a column defending Dr. Oz.

But, looking back, I note that my columns here often zeroed in on a handful of key issues that made headlines in 2014—the Farm Bill, soda taxes, alcohol deregulation, California's egg-crate law, a variety of food-related lawsuits, and the controversy over the USDA's misguided school lunch reforms.

What about others? What did they see as the key issues in 2014? And what do they think will be key issues this year?

To answer those questions, I asked a handful of food law and policy cognoscenti—including Reason's Ron Bailey and Elizabeth Nolan Brown—what they thought was the most important food policy story of 2014. For good measure, I also asked them to predict what issue might make headlines this year. Their responses follow.

Jeff Stier, National Center for Public Policy Research

2014's Top Story

In 2014, controversy swirled around the Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments' preparation for congressionally mandated revisions to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The guidelines, which are not only advisory in nature, but impact a range of federal budgets for everything from military diets to food stamps, are meant to promote a "healthful diet—one that focuses on food and beverages that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health, and prevent disease."  However in 2014, "sustainability," "immigration," "global climate change," and "agriculture/aquaculture sustainability" were among the items for consideration on the dietary guidelines advisory committee meetings."

What to Look for in 2015

I am not a prognosticator, so I can't claim to know what the food police will dream up for 2015. After all, I'd never have been able to guess that they'd have used global warming to take burgers away from our military, or that immigration policy would taint dietary advice.

Walter Olson, Cato Institute

2014's Top Story

Teens began posting pics of sad, shriveled school meals with the hashtag #ThanksMichelleObama. "Food policy" types had a fit: insolence! ingratitude! But Washington, D.C. noticed: of all the ways to irritate the political class, making fun of them is among their least favorite.

What to Look for in 2015

Have you heard of "Health in All Policies"? It's a buzz-phrase for inserting public health dogma into everything from land use to taxation. Imagine if sticking up for your taste in milkshakes and margaritas meant you had to attend zoning meetings. It might come to that.

Ron Bailey, Reason

2014's Top Story

GMO labeling campaigns continue to strike out, but get ever closer to bamboozling consumers with their anti-scientific disinformation.

What to Look for in 2015

[T]he rise of synthetic biology to grow ingredients and foods utilizing genetically modified bacteria in vats and consuming far less resources, energy and land [such as] vanillin flavoring and cow's milk.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason

2014's Top Story

Certainly nowhere near the top food policy story of 2014, but one of my favorites was the battle over whether breweries could donate spent grains to local farmers for use as livestock feed. It was a perfect instance of the FDA stepping in to regulate something under the guise of "food safety" when not a single complaint, incident, or scrap of logic warranted it—and in the process almost destroying a mutually beneficial (and cost-saving) situation for farmers and brewers. But it also had a happy ending, with the FDA eventually backing off the asinine new rules.

What to Look for in 2015

In 2015, I expect we're going to see a lot of exciting new things in the way of marijuana edibles, and also a lot more panic and calls for regulation of these edibles.

NEXT: On The Independents: 2015 Resolutions, Predictions, Politics, Economics, Gadgets, and Cyberwars, With Peter Schiff, Michaels Moynihan and Malice, and More!

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  2. Some of Jeff Stier’s assertions need links. Not that he’s lying; more that it would be nice to have the links.

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    1. In 2015 you will be able to buy food through an online auction as well. And yes, the deals will be unbelievable.

    2. I wanted to buy an underage girl so I went there. Wow, was I disappointed. You should be ashamed, and I hope they repo your neighbor’s new BMW.

  4. “A Lumberton [NC] man traded gunfire with three men who forced their way into his home, robbed the family, tried to rape his granddaughter and stole his car Monday, Robeson County authorities said.

    “One of the men, identified as Jamie Faison, 20, was shot and found dead in the stolen Cadillac parked at his home on the 600 block of Singletary Church Road, Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said in a news release.

    “The two other men turned up at area hospitals with gunshot wounds.”

    http://www.fayobserver.com/new…..dd3c5.html

    1. If he didn’t have a gun then he wouldn’t have been shot. And there would have been one fewer homicide. And as the Democratic party instructed, the granddaughter could have peed or thrown up on the men to prevent the rape. (Prog-inspired sarcasm).

    2. That’s from several months ago. He should have taken that whip to the hospital too.

  5. I a country with more food choices than ever in history,veggie’s and fruit on shelves every where all year long,and a safe supply never before seen, why do government types have to screw with it? They even subsidize and tout a diet you don’t need. Oh,FYTW

  6. And then, “Good Food Awards aren’t just about the food”!
    No siree! There’s a heaping helping of righteous bullshit included!

    “No less than culinary demigods Alice Waters (the Alice Waters famous for claiming food should cost more.), Ruth Reichl and Nell Newman of Newman’s Own Organics will hand out the 146 medals.
    […]
    For the awards don’t just go to foods that taste good, but to companies that do good ? that give back to their communities, pay a fair price for ingredients, and are environmentally responsible.”

    At least:
    “So much about the Good Food Awards can sound cringe-worthily twee. What could be more rarefied than a clique of food stars celebrating themselves?”
    Nothing; I’d say ALL of it sounds that way.
    http://www.sfgate.com/food/art…..991068.php

    1. Wow, so much there. Sarah Weiner doesn’t eat- or she might eat and refund. Her flavor standard was California Pizza Kitchen, whose food is scientifically processed to remove any hint of flavor. Wonder what Daddy’s connections were? The gallery has precious photos of budding little SJWs (no doubt keeping notebooks plastered with inspirational pictures of Michelle Obama as their daily nutrition journals, and isn’t Barack just dreamy?) preparing the awards.

      The event is inevitably at Fort Mason- where else?

      1. You’ll notice Newman’s kids wasting the inheritance, too.

      2. “I’d just never thought about the provenance of my vanilla.”

        Wow.

    2. Christ on a pogo stick. I hate the “Slow Food Movement” people. Yeah that shits great when you have a year long growing season. Those assholes should spend some time in the Northern hemisphere.

  7. The book Freakonomics, when touting the benefits of abortion, relied on a study published in 1998. You’ll never guess who coauthored the study.

    (Hint: Jonathan Gruber)

    http://ow.ly/GJKH1

    1. So? Don’t get me wrong, anything that was published do to the works of Johnathan Gruber deserves extra scrutiny, but the article you linked doesn’t address the premise of the argument.

      1. “anything that was published do to the works of Johnathan Gruber deserves extra scrutiny”

        which is the point I was trying to make. I linked to Charen to show Gruber’s authorship – as to Charen’s other comments, that’s icing on the cake.

        1. t let’s imagine that Gruber was right ? that legalizing abortion eliminated a big cohort of the criminal element and led to a drop in crime. Did every one of those aborted criminals merit the death penalty? The car thieves? The embezzlers? Did each one deserve a preemptive death penalty? Before trial? Before the crime itself? Oddly, progressives tend to oppose harsh punishments for convicted criminals while quietly celebrating the ultimate penalty for those too young to have committed any offense.

          The premise the writer is getting at is that “every sperm is sacred”. Did each one one deserve a death penalty? No, they didn’t. But that’s a line of thinking steeped in the Pro-Life train of thought. I know longer hold to that line of thinking. Are the mathematics behind the viewpoint faulty? I don’t think that they are. If I’m missing something, please explain it to me. I genuinely want to understand.

          1. Not the writer, I meant you. Sorry for the confusion. No malice intended, just looking for a rational explanation.

            1. Where does “every sperm is sacred” come into it? Abortion isn’t birth control – even progressives acknowledge that!

              In other words, the fetus is just as much of a human being as you or I. The fact that we were conceived by the union of sperm and egg doesn’t deprive them of the right to life, any more than it deprives *us* of the right to live, since we were conceived by the same method.

              1. the fact that *they* were conceived

              2. While I agree that on a biological level there is no difference between a fertilized egg and myself, the law doesn’t recognize such a distinction.

                Now, based purely on mathematics, is what they are saying wrong? Isn’t there a higher mathematical probability of the “unwanted poor” committing crimes than the wanted affluent?

                I know that’s dehumanizing to those unfortunate enough to fall under that category, but mathematically, are they wrong?

                1. I don’t actually know if the statistics are any good, but once I learn that Gruber is behind the figures – a guy who boasts of deceiving the public to get the public-policy results he wants – then I would challenge the credibility of the figures, or urge that a more credible expert do some new research.

                  Of course I challenge the premise – only someone who denies that abortion is a crime can claim that increasing the abortion rate will lower the crime rate.

                  1. Of course I challenge the premise – only someone who denies that abortion is a crime can claim that increasing the abortion rate will lower the crime rate.

                    As distasteful as you find it, I fall under that category. As far as Gruber is considered, you make an excellent point. I’ll commit to due diligence and read up on his argument.

              3. And for the record, I know more than a handful of young(ish) women who treat abortion as exactly that, birth control. “Oh, I got knocked up again, no big whoop”.

                I find that line of thinking morally repugnant, but it does exist, regardless the standard party platform.

                1. I should say that the typical progressive line in public is that it’s not birth control.

                  1. And contrariwise, the party line on certain allegedly abortifacient procedures is that “this is birth control, not abortion, so anyone trying to ban it is an anti-birth-control extremist whetever you think about abortion!”

                    Election results show that you get more success by defending birth control than by defending abortion.

                    1. Damn you, G.K.C.!
                      While I was responding to you, I overcooked my steak! Not your fault, but if I’m playing the contrarian today, I might as well pull a progressive and blame others for my own stupidity. 😉

                  2. “In public”, is the key phrase. But most progressives I know dismiss that when it pertains to their personal life.

  8. Prediction: New ‘safety standards’ for dangerous exercise equipment.

    “Senate Democratic leader injured in fall at Nevada home”
    […]
    “The accident occurred when an elastic exercise band broke, striking Reid in the face and causing him to fall,”
    http://www.sfgate.com/nation/a…..990557.php

    1. All the jokes about Koch-brand exercise equipment have already been made, right?

  9. In 2015, I expect we’re going to see a lot of exciting new things in the way of marijuana edibles

    The fact that ENB neglected to take advantage of the opportunity to make an “eat weed everyday” joke depresses me.

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