Food Policy

"Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable"

Reason columnist Baylen Linnekin will talk about his new book in DC on Saturday, 1 P.M. at Politics & Prose.


Rising Up

Baylen Linnekin writes about "food freedom" at Reason every Saturday (check out his archive here). His new book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws, is drawing strong notices for its mix of libertarian brio and familiarity with the artisanal food scene. Biting the Hands that Feed Us exposes many absurdities in current food law, while celebrating ethical entrepreneurs," says Whole Foods' John Mackey. "This witty, incisive book will outrage and ultimately inspire you." And here's Booklist, "His book cleverly and precisely decries how the federal government's rules and restrictions regarding food are a serious disservice to producers and consumers alike."

To which I'll add: I've read the book and recommend it highly if you care at all about food, fun, and freedom. Linnekin mixes his mastery of history and law with a great sense of humor and frustration at a regulatory and cultural system that is completely at odds with itself. This is the book to give to your farmer-market friends who love Whole Foods, mandatory GMO labeling, and dictating what is good not just for themselves but everyone in society. It's a primer not just in the law of unintended consequences but in the proliferation of unnecessary rules in the first place. I've seen him do both and can testify that Linnekin thinks like he cooks: with passion, intensity, informality, and a genuine humility that will leave you feeling full but not stuffed, suddenly aware of new tastes and flavors, and excited about the rest of your evening.

If you're in the Washington, D.C. area, Linnekin will be speaking at Politics & Prose Bookstore tomorrow, October 8, at 1 P.M.:

In the U.S. today, nearly 40% of food goes to waste. Much of this is the unintended consequence of laws regulating the food industry, such as standards for appearance, blanket sell-by dates that prohibit "expired" food from being donated, and laws that ban backyard fruit and vegetable gardens. Linnekin, a lawyer, adjunct professor at George Mason and American Universities, and founder and executive director of Keep Food Legal, surveys a variety of food regulations, interviews people involved in producing, selling, and preparing food, and spotlights the regulations that have been successful in promoting a sustainable, clean, and equable food supply.

This event is free to attend with no reservation required. Seating is available on a first come, first served basis. Click here for more information. 5015 Connecticut Ave NW Washington DC 20008

Biting the Hands that Feed Us is available in hardcover and Kindle versions, with the later costing just $3.99 at Amazon.

Linnekin appeared in this 2012 Reason TV video about foie gras bans by Zach Weissmueller. Check it out: