We should be thankful that we live in a time period where
our standard of living is high and food is in abundance. There may still be some people in this
world, in third-world countries, who are near starvation, or at least
malnourished. But in America, most
poor people eat. America is one
place where you will find that even some poor people are overweight.
When it comes to food in America, it is a mixed economy. It is a combination of the free market
and government control. Sometimes
I will get in to discussions with people about liberty. They will say that the government has
to do this or that because that is the way it is done now. I like to respond that if the
government ran the grocery stores, many people would say that the free market
would not be able to provide such a service.
I have little idea how grocery stores operate. I don’t know how they predict what
consumers will buy, other than past patterns. I don’t know how they get trucks to deliver food. I don’t know how they stock their
shelves and how they rotate their food.
But I don’t really need to know much about grocery stores. There are other people who do know what
to do and the competition ensures that the best run grocery stores are the ones
that stay open.
It is a scary thought to think of what grocery stores might
look like if the government were in charge of them. We would probably be eating the same thing for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner every day.
But while grocery stores are somewhat free market, the foods
that are sold in them are under a lot of government control.
The government will often do things in the name of
“protecting consumers”, but it is still an infringement on our liberty. In some cases, it even has the opposite
These government intrusions come at us from all levels. They come from the federal government,
state governments, and local governments.
There are obvious infringements or attempted infringements
that people have heard about, such as banning the sale of large sodas. But there are also a lot of areas where
people are not even aware that the government is involved so heavily.
The report discusses that much of the origin of the American
Revolution was a result of economic liberty and food freedom. But while the American colonists were
well aware of what was happening to them, Americans today have little idea.
Interestingly, it was a Supreme Court case involving food in
the 1930s that set a bad precedent that we continue to pay for today. In Wickard v. Filburn, a wheat farmer
named Roscoe Filburn exceeded his quota of wheat production, which was part of
Roosevelt’s New Deal program.
Filburn argued that his excess wheat was for personal consumption and
therefore had no effect on interstate commerce.
The Supreme Court ruled that Filburn’s consumption of the
wheat he grew could still have an effect on interstate commerce. The Supreme Court really turned the Commerce
Clause on its head and this is the clause cited today for many of the violations
of the Constitution, which is most legislation and edicts.
In our world today, we have to live with the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) and crazy laws such as the Food Safety Modernization Act
(FSMA), which was passed three years ago.
It is not surprising that the FSMA particularly hurts small
farmers and food entrepreneurs. It
is legislation that keeps out the little guy, while big business gets the
government-granted privileges. But
that is far from the only thing.
In the Institute for Justice’s report, it details the
government’s war against raw milk.
The report states:
“Another symbol of the FDA’s attack on food freedom in the
name of so-called food safety is the agency’s heavy-handed enforcement of its
ban on the interstate shipment and sale of unpasteurized (raw) milk. Many states also ban the sale of raw
milk. The FDA adopted its ban
reluctantly in the late 1980s due to a lawsuit by Public Citizen that
ultimately forced the agency’s hand.”
Opponents of raw milk argue that it can be dangerous due to
bacteria. But many health
proponents see this as a benefit, as your body needs beneficial bacteria to
Just like any food, raw milk can be potentially dangerous if
it is mishandled. But that is also
true of any food, including meats and vegetables. The point is that consumers are not being allowed to freely
choose for themselves.
This gets even more egregious when you look at the
government’s actions to enforce its laws.
As the report states: “In 2011, for example, the FDA – along with U.S.
Marshals and a state police officer – carried out an armed early morning raid
on the rural Pennsylvania farm of Dan Allgyer. The raid was the culmination of a yearlong undercover
investigation into Allgyer, who the FDA determined was providing raw milk to
consumers in the Washington, D.C. area, in violation of the agency’s ban on
So if buyers and sellers voluntarily try to do business with
each other in violation of the government’s rules, they will come in with their
The report points out that it is not just the FDA, but also
other departments such as the Department of Agriculture that continually harass
people in the food business.
The report also details that it is not just rules and
regulations coming down from the federal government. In many cases, it is state and local laws that we have to
The report gives one example as follows: “In 2013, Miami
Shores, Fla., amended its ordinance to prohibit front-yard vegetable gardens
and informed Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll that they faced fines
of $50 a day if they did not destroy their beautiful garden.”
There are many more cases where cities violate property
rights with ordinances that make little sense. It doesn’t just happen in places like New York City where
they try to ban big drinks. It is
happening all over.
The report doesn’t even get into many of the other
outrageous things that government does to our diet.
Whether it is putting fluoride in our tap water or promoting
high fructose corn syrup, it sometimes seems as though the government is almost
trying to kill us.
In some cases, it may just be politicians and bureaucrats
that don’t know better. In many
cases, it is likely just pure politics, where lobbyists for big businesses get
politicians to pass legislation in their favor in exchange for their support.
As long as politics exists, this will continue. Fortunately, with the technological age
we live in today, we can communicate more freely. I believe that many more people are becoming aware of the
fact that they shouldn’t listen to what the government tells them. They are taking their health into their
own hands and finding ways around the regulations, such as going directly to
We should continue to educate people on this subject and
make them aware of the things that government is doing to them, or preventing
them from doing. We each own our
own body and we should be free to put whatever we want in to it. I can drink raw milk without forcing
anyone else to do so.