The Food Freedom Act has passed in Wyoming. It decriminalized some voluntary capitalist acts between consenting individuals and not a moment too soon. Government regulation is no panacea and food regulation could soon become even more disconnected with its purported purpose of keeping us healthy. Seems the USDA may incorporate environmental sustainability in its upcoming 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As special interest groups exert more control over government, we must eliminate the dead hand of government from our food choices.
HB 56, the Food Freedom Act, allows the sale and consumption of homemade foods, including raw milk, and encourages the expansion of sales in farmers markets.
Food Freedom Act sponsor Sen. Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) put it plainly during the senate debate when he said, “This is a personal choice.” He went on to confirm, “It’s about making something legal that is already happening.” In other words, the Food Freedom Act would eliminate the black market in raw milk.
Not everyone thinks free market acts between consenting individuals are a good thing. During that same debate, bill opponents such as Sen. Charlie Scott (R-Natrona) said that raw milk is full of bacteria. Sen. Scott, if you don’t want to drink raw milk, this bill won’t force you to.
This river runs far deeper than milk. One question asked during the debate was — does government regulation make us safer? Sen. Larry Hicks (R-Baggs) said more than two-thirds of food-borne illnesses come from government-inspected restaurants. So the answer is no, government regulation doesn’t necessarily make us safer.
An even more fundamental question is, does government know best?
Not always. For example, before 1994, so-called experts at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) barred health-food marketers Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw from saying about fish oil supplements: “Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” Pearson and Shaw challenged the FDA’s ruling, and in 2001, the FDA finally yielded to reason.
But between 1994 and 2001, about one million Americans suffered sudden-death heart attacks. Perhaps, had consumers known what is now considered established science, some people could have lived longer.
Making matters worse, government agencies tend to be co-opted by special interest groups with an agenda that has little or nothing to do with the best interests of consumers. When government makes rules and regulations based on special interest agendas, we end up with less choice and often are made worse off.
For example, the USDA’s dietary guidelines have long been controversial. Since the guidelines were established in 1977, it has recommended more carbohydrates, and less fat, cholesterol and salt. As the population has shifted in that direction, we have seen an increase in obesity and diabetes. Seems a one-size-fits all solution doesn’t work for everyone.
To add to the controversy, the government’s dietary guidelines may soon consider issues that have nothing to do with nutrition.
Recently, a congressional directive on the upcoming 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans expressed concern that, “The advisory committee is showing an interest in incorporating agriculture production practices and environmental factors into their criteria for establishing the next dietary recommendations.”
What might that entail?
According to an article in Science Magazine, this advisory subcommittee is reviewing how substituting plant-based foods for meat and dairy in the guidelines will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Given the power of special interest groups to influence government, the time to return the power of choice over the food we put into our own bodies is now. The person in the best position to choose food for your family is you