BITING THE HANDS THAT FEED US by Baylen J. Linnekin

BITING THE HANDS THAT FEED US

How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A call “to remove the shackles that bind America's food system in order to ensure a more sustainable food future.”

Food lawyer and scholar Linnekin (Food Law and Policy/George Mason Univ. and American Univ.), the founder of the nonprofit Keep Food Legal, contends that many local, state, and federal regulations ostensibly intended to protect consumers ignore environmental issues and operate to the benefit of large-scale food producers. In his view, much of the problem originates with bureaucratic overreach. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is responsible for creating a climate that favors corporate farms, and the author points out the sometimes-hidden agricultural subsidies, as in the case of school lunch programs. Linnekin offers the example of a conflict between the FDA and an award-winning Denver restaurateur who featured “Old World” meats containing “no artificial ingredients.” The chef purchased natural produce from local suppliers and used artisanal methods to prepare it, but regulators demanded that his sausages contain artificial preservatives. Rather than comply, he closed his restaurant. In the case of farmers, the author notes that while some of the regulations called for by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act are steps forward in guaranteeing food safety, many have been “anathema to sustainable farming.” He gives several examples, including “costly water testing for many crops that don't pose food-safety hazards,” as well as the banning of the use of wooden aging shelves by traditional cheesemakers. Local farmers markets have also found themselves in the FDA’s crosshairs for using ice blocks rather than costly electric refrigeration for the preservation of meat and poultry. Linnekin cites a 2010 Wall Street Journal article charging that such rules and regulations were “not the first time big business has leveraged government to weigh down smaller competitors,” a statement with which the passionate author agrees.

A provocative critique of current food policy from a libertarian perspective.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-61091-675-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Island Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2016




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