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Authors: Jayson Lusk

The Food Police

BOOK: The Food Police
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Copyright © 2013 by Jayson Lusk

All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Crown Forum, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
www.crownpublishing.com

CROWN FORUM with colophon is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Lusk, Jayson.
The food police : a well-fed manifesto about the politics of your plate / Jayson L. Lusk.
p.    cm.
Includes bibliographical references.
1. Nutrition—Government policy. I. Title.
RA784.L87   2013
363.19’2—dc23                      2012025935

eISBN: 978-0-307-98704-4

JACKET DESIGN BY NUPOOR GORDON
JACKET PHOTOGRAPHS BY FRANK LONGHITANO (FOOD) AND SPXCHROME/ISTOCK PHOTO (POLICE REPORT)

v3.1

For those who wish to eat without a backseat driver

CONTENTS
A SKEPTICAL FOODIE

A catastrophe is looming. Farmers are raping the land and torturing animals. Food is riddled with deadly pesticides, hormones, and foreign DNA. Corporate farms are wallowing in government subsidies. Meatpackers and fast-food restaurants are exploiting workers and tainting the food supply. And Paula Deen has diabetes.

Something must be done.

Or so you would believe if you listened to the hysterics of an emerging elite who claim to know better what we should eat. I call them the food police to be polite, but a more accurate term might be food fascists or food socialists. They are totalitarians when it comes to food, and they seek control over your refrigerator, by governmental regulation when they can or by moralizing and guilt when they can’t. They play on fears and prejudices while claiming the high mantle of science and
impartial journalism. And their dirty little secret is that they embrace an ideological agenda that seeks to control your dinner table and your wallet.

A chorus of authors, talk show hosts, politicians, and celebrity chefs has emerged as the self-appointed saviors of our food system. They are right about one thing: There is something sinister about our dinner plans. The food police are showing up uninvited.

Whatever tonight’s plans, you’d better make room for another guest. It isn’t the polite sort who calls ahead and asks what he can bring; it’s the impertinent snob who’s coming over whether you like it or not, demanding his favorite dish to boot. Be careful what you choose to serve—if isn’t made with the finest local ingredients painstakingly bought from small organic farms, expect an evening of condescension and moralizing. And at all costs, avoid the meat from cows fed corn, or you’ll have a riot of political correctness on your hands.

Like it or not, the food police will be at dinner. It is impossible to turn on the TV, pick up a book about food, or stroll through the grocery store without hearing a sermon on how to eat. We have been pronounced a nation of sinful eaters, and the food police have made it their mission that we seek contrition for every meal. We are guilty of violating the elite’s revelations. Thou shalt not eat at McDonald’s, buy eggs from chickens raised in cages, buy tomatoes from Mexico, or feed your infant nonorganic baby food. There can be no lack of faith in the elite’s dictates. There are no difficult trade-offs and no gray areas. Thou shalt sacrifice taste for nutrition, convenience for sustainability, and low prices for social justice.

And if we won’t willingly repent, the high priests of
politically correct food will regulate us into submission. If you aren’t convinced, consider just a few examples of the food police in action.

T
RANS
F
AT
B
ANS
Try a doughnut the next time you’re in New York City or Philadelphia. Not as tasty as it used to be, is it? For this we can thank the food police and their war on trans fats.
1
And what a service it has been; we should be grateful to have been taught the shocking truth that too many Oreos and doughnuts are unhealthy!

O
UTLAWED
H
APPY
M
EALS
Do you have children? Want to reward them for an A+ on their spelling test? Don’t even think about taking them to McDonald’s in San Francisco or you’ll have a backseat of unhappy campers. The city’s board of supervisors tried to ban toys in Happy Meals as a way of “moving forward an agenda of food justice.”
2
The hypocrisy is astounding. So now, “in the City by the Bay, if you want to roller skate naked down Castro Street wearing a phallic-symbol hat and snorting an eight-ball off a transgender hooker’s chest while underage kids run behind you handing out free heroin needles, condoms and coupons … 
that’s
your right as a free citizen of the United States. But if you want to put a Buzz Lightyear toy in the same box with a hamburger and fries and sell it, you’re outta line, mister!”
3

T
WINKIE
T
AXES
Despite the economic research clearly showing that fat taxes will do little to slim our waistlines, food police across the nation are hiking food prices by implementing various
forms of taxes on soda, fat, and fast food. In his book
The World Is Fat
, University of North Carolina professor Barry Popkin says, “Taxing the added sugar in beverages is a favorite strategy of mine.”
4
So now you know whom to thank when your grocery bill is 100 percent higher and half as tasty.

L
OCAL
F
OOD
S
UBSIDIES AND
P
URCHASING
R
EQUIREMENTS
Rather than using our tax dollars to shore up Medicare or Social Security, the food police want to subsidize your neighbor’s purchase of local asparagus. With the help of lawmakers, bestselling author Michael Pollan wants to “require that a certain percentage of that school-lunch fund in every school district has to be spent within 100 miles.”
5
Tough luck for citrus-loving children in Minnesota.

A
FFIRMATIVE
A
CTION FOR
C
OWS
The Obama administration tried to implement rules on the “fair” pricing of livestock that would have required ranchers and meatpackers to justify to the government the prices they freely pay and accept for cattle. Cowboys across the nation would have had to tell Uncle Sam why they paid more for a hearty registered Angus than a scrawny half-breed. In a move projected to have cost farmers and consumers more than $1.5 billion annually, and radically altered the structure of the livestock sector, the food police unwittingly married George Orwell’s two greatest works by bringing Big Brother onto Animal Farm.
6

D
IRT
T
AXES
As if just now realizing that corn grows in the ground, the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to implement
rules enabling it to fine farmers if their tractors kick up too much dust. Charlie Brown’s friend Pig-Pen had better watch his back.

F
RUIT AND
V
EGGIE
S
UBSIDIES
Convinced that the food industry is “incapable of marketing healthier foods,”
New York Times
food writer Mark Bittman wants to expand the welfare state by cajoling farmers and consumers into growing and buying the stuff he prefers that we eat. Bittman wants to enact policies that will “subsidize the purchase of staple foods like seasonal greens, vegetables, whole grains, dried legumes and fruit.”
7

F
OIE
G
RAS
B
ANS
Only after a groundswell of outrage from chefs and restaurant-goers did the city of Chicago rescind its ban on the duck and goose liver delicacy. Undeterred by the suffering palates of their Midwestern brethren, the state of California now bars its own citizens from buying what can be found on almost every street in Paris.

R
EGULATING
H
APPY
H
ENS AND
H
OGS
Despite the fact that fewer than 5 percent of consumers buy cage-free eggs or pork, activist efforts have led to ballot initiatives and legislation in at least eight states requiring farmers to use cage-free production systems. The laws force farmers to adopt practices that most consumers aren’t fully willing to pay for.
8

T
ECHNOPHOBIA
Wirelessly pontificating on Facebook and Twitter via their 64 GB iPads, the food police welcome new technology—that is, unless it relates to food. Unwilling to accept the scientific evidence on the potential price-reducing and
safety-enhancing advantages of new food technologies, the food police promote bans, taxes, restrictions, and propaganda on technologies such as preservatives, irradiation, biotechnology, cloning, and pesticides. They even spread fear about age-old practices such as pasteurization, hybrid plant breeding, and grain-fed livestock.

BOOK: The Food Police
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