The Food Police

[Amazon Link]

In my long association with the University Near Here, I had never before used its Interlibrary Loan service to get a book. Guess what? It's easily accomplished online in these days of modern times, and (although it took longer than promised) I was able to check out The Food Police by Jayson Lusk, magically transported from the B. Thomas Golisano Library of Roberts Wesleyan University, Rochester NY. Win!

Lusk is a professor in agricultural economics at Oklahoma State. And he, like many of us of a libertarian bent, is dismayed and outraged by the nannies, blue-noses, and noodges that have taken it upon themselves to alter the diets of the tubby American people. In his sights are NYT food writer Mark Bittman; journalist/activist/Berkeley prof Michael Pollan; NYU prof Marion Nestle; NYC's Mayor Bloomberg; and their ilk.

Lusk is unsparing, showing how his opponents' elitist values are backed up with nothing more than shaky science, bad economics, and (above all) an overweening craving for reshaping the diets of the little (or, considering their waistlines, not-so-little) people. Among the topics considered: locavorism (eating food produced within N miles of your table), organics, "Frankenfood" (genetically modified eats), farm regulations and subsidies, and efforts to impose taxes and onerous regulations on "bad" food.

Lusk's heart is in the right place, and I'm in total agreement with his general thesis. If I had to quibble, it would be with his tone: it's very much preaching to the choir, not likely to persuade anyone who isn't already likely to agree with him.

It's a short book, and you might get some ammunition for your next debate with a "food activist", should you get into that sort of thing.