food law & policy

Read My Latest Article: Using Online Tools to Assess Consumer Perceptions of Class-Action Food Litigation

How may researchers assess consumers’ perceptions of class-action lawsuits? And what are the implications of those perceptions?

Those simple questions lie at the heart of my latest law-review article, published this week. The short article, Using Online Tools to Assess Consumer Perceptions of Class-Action Food Litigation, appears in the prestigious Loyola Consumer Law Review, the only law journal dedicated solely to examining legal issues that pertain to consumers.

The piece, the lead article in the new symposium issue of the law review, takes a novel approach to understanding consumer perceptions of class-action litigation, an area of great importance and timeliness and one in which a dearth of research currently exists. In the article, I introduce an approach to using online tools—including everything from social media apps such Facebook and Twitter to message boards—to assess how consumers perceive class-action litigation. Specifically, the article focuses on the mushrooming area of class-action litigation pertaining to food (which I dub the “food class action,” or “FCA” for short). Examples I discuss in the article include the famed Subway “footlong” lawsuit and suits targeting candy maker Wrigley, brewer Pabst, and soft-serve ice cream giant Dairy Queen.

Here’s an excerpt:

Online tools allow consumers to share their perceptions of FCAs and, more generally, of class-action litigation. As this Article describes, such perceptions pertain to many of the key issues in such litigation, from their merits to the state of the American judicial system…. As calls for class-action reforms grow, those who establish and amend rules for; study; and participate in such litigation—among them policymakers, judges, attorneys, and scholars, respectively—should consider the perceptions and wishes of consumers to help inform the basis, shape, and parameters of any such reforms.

Publication of this article follows my appearance as an invited panelist at the Loyola Consumer Law Review’s annual symposium last year. Read the complete article here. To read more of my selected writings, click here.

Fall Writing Updates

Were you thinking just now that an update on my recent writings is past due? You’re correct. It turns out that updates of that sort are about the only thing I haven’t been writing of late.

  • The best (and most popular) of my recent Reason columns focuses on sales of food via the Facebook Marketplace. For the column, I bravely purchased and ate some spectacular homemade tamales that I tracked down using the social network.

  • My latest article for the New Food Economy, published last month, explores how the Trump administration is quietly advancing many of the Obama administration’s food policies.

  • This afternoon, I sent off final edits to my forthcoming Loyola Consumer Law Review article on how social-media tools can help us to assess consumer perceptions of class-action food litigation. The article follows my appearance as an invited panelist at the law review's spring symposium.

I have some other news that’s not yet ripe for sharing. For now, I’ll say only that it involves a manner of writing that rhymes with “diction.”

My New Law-Review Article Tackles Federal, State, & Local Foraging Regulations

I'm thrilled to share news that my latest law-journal article is now available online. The article, Food Law Gone Wild: The Law of Foraging, is the first-ever law-review article to focus on foraging, which I define in the article as "the harvest of foods which are not cultivated by man but that grow spontaneously in the wild, regardless of whether the 'wild' is an urban, suburban, rural, or wilderness area." It's also the first comprehensive look at National Park Service regulations, state foraging laws, and municipal foraging rules.

The article appears in the new issue of the Fordham Urban Law Journal. I wrote the article in conjunction with my appearance last fall as a panelist at the law review's annual Cooper-Walsh Colloquium.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

[L]aws at all levels of government in America increasingly target foragers. In a few cases, these restrictions are smart policy. But many foraging rules at the federal, state, and local level are wrongheaded and draconian. In recent years, for example, an elderly Illinois man was fined for picking dandelion greens in a Chicago-area park. Another forager was fined for picking edible berries in a suburban Washington, D.C. park.

Laws pertaining to foraging reflect the ongoing tension between dueling policy goals. On the one hand, many people wish to protect and defend public and private ecosystems. On the other hand, many people long to spend time in nature and enjoy the fruits of those aforementioned ecosystems. Despite the growing number of regulatory issues pertaining to foraging, legal and other social science scholarship on this issue is virtually nonexistent.8 This lack of guidance is particularly problematic because foraging is increasingly popular and because federal, state, and local foraging rules vary wildly, and often conflict.

This Article seeks to address and eradicate this scholarly deficit. Part I provides a narrow definition of foraging, discusses American foraging demographics and the growing popularity of foraging, and describes the benefits of foraging and some potential risks. Part II provides a brief history of foraging traditions in the United States and discusses the factors behind the development of America’s anti- foraging laws. Part III provides a detailed look at current federal, state, and local anti-foraging laws in the United States, with a special focus on select state and local rules, regulations at all fifty-nine National Park Service National Park units, and caselaw. Part IV assesses the impacts of foraging rules and proposes foraging rules that cities, states, and the federal government should adopt. The Article concludes that the ancient and valued practice of foraging deserves legal primacy that protects both foragers and the lands upon which they choose to forage.

Read the entire article here

This is my second law-review article to be published this spring. My article on the field of Food Law & Policy, co-authored with Emily Broad Leib, was published recently by the Journal of Food Law & Policy. My other recent publications include an op-ed on federal regulation of animal slaughter and local food in The Hill and an op-ed in the Orange County Register on the U.S. Supreme Court's potential hearing of an appeal of California's foie gras ban.

My Latest Law-Review Article Explores Growth in Field of Food Law & Policy

I’m excited to report that my latest law-journal article has just been published in the Journal of Food Law & Policy (housed at the University of Arkansas Law School). In the article, which I co-authored with Harvard Law School’s Emily Broad Leib, we conclude that the legal field of Food Law & Policy has matured into a vital and vibrant field in the legal academy.

The article, Food Law & Policy: An Essential Part of Today’s Legal Academy, updates a seminal 2014 Wisconsin Law Review article on the field, Food Law & Policy: The Fertile Field’s Origins and First Decade, by me and Broad Leib. That article was the first to detail the fascinating origins and explosive growth of the field from its beginnings in the mid-2000s. In the new Journal of Food Law & Policy article, we present fresh data on the steady growth of the field since publication of our Wisconsin Law Review article.

Using the same ten criteria we developed to measure the growth of Food Law & Policy for the earlier article, the Journal of Food Law & Policy piece measures and details the field’s growth since that time. The field’s continued growth—along with its firm footing within the legal academy—is one of the new article’s key findings.

For example, in the 2014 article we determined that 20 of the top-100 law schools had offered Food Law & Policy courses. The new article identifies 34 such schools that have offered courses—including, in some cases, multiple course offerings. That’s a seventy-percent increase in just four years.

The new article also reveals several other equally compelling data points. For example, the 2014 article identified one dedicated Food Law & Policy clinic at a law school (led by Broad Leib), along with thirty clinics at twenty-three laws schools that had pursued one or more Food Law & Policy projects. The new article shows that four schools now boast dedicated Food Law & Policy clinics, and that nearly six-dozen clinics at four-dozen law schools have now worked on one or more Food Law & Policy projects.

Finally, while the 2014 article identified seven (of ten) areas of a legal field that Food Law & Policy had occupied, the new Journal of Food Law & Policy article demonstrates that Food Law & Policy now meets all ten such criteria. That's exciting growth for a legal field, particularly over a period of just a few short years.

For legal nerds only, here’s the cite: Emily Broad Leib & Baylen J. Linnekin, Food Law & Policy: An Essential Part of Today’s Legal Academy, 13 J. Food L. & Pol’y 228 (2018).

Food Law Speaking, Writing, & Teaching Updates

I recently returned from Los Angeles, where I served as a guest faculty member at UCLA Law School, which played host to law students from around the country as part of the Food Law Student Leadership Summit. It's my third year of teaching at the (now) three-year old summit, which brings together smart and interested Food Law & Policy students from around the country for a series of seminars, lectures, and workshops on a variety of food-law topics.

My seminar at UCLA focused on the law as it applies to foraging (e.g., for mushrooms), which is the subject of one of two law review articles I'm currently writing. The foraging article will appear in an upcoming edition of the Fordham Urban Law Journal. The other article, which I wrote with my frequent collaborator Emily Broad Leib, is an update to our 2014 article on the field of Food Law & Policy. The earlier article appeared in the Wisconsin Law Review. Our current article will be published by the Journal of Food Law & Policy.

I've also been working on other writing assignments of late. One such article is out in print but not yet online. It's an essay for the American Bar Association's GP Solo magazine. The article focuses on federal GMO regulation. Here's an ABA summary of my article.

Did you ever wonder where your food comes from? GMOs Engender Passion (and That’s a Poor Basis for Lawmaking) by Baylen J. Linnekin explains what is a genetically modified organism and discusses current laws pertaining to GMO agriculture and foods (including a recent federal GMO-labeling law). Linnekin also explains the role of three U.S. agencies (the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency) in regulating GMO agriculture and food and highlights recent and ongoing controversies pertaining to GMOs. The author argues that people are free to tout what they believe are the wonders or horrors of GMO foods and discusses whether the government’s policy on GMOs should be a neutral one.

Did you ever wonder where your food comes from? GMOs Engender Passion (and That’s a Poor Basis for Lawmaking) by Baylen J. Linnekin explains what is a genetically modified organism and discusses current laws pertaining to GMO agriculture and foods (including a recent federal GMO-labeling law). Linnekin also explains the role of three U.S. agencies (the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency) in regulating GMO agriculture and food and highlights recent and ongoing controversies pertaining to GMOs. The author argues that people are free to tout what they believe are the wonders or horrors of GMO foods and discusses whether the government’s policy on GMOs should be a neutral one.

Stay tuned for a link to my ABA article once it's live online. If you're starved for Food Law & Policy readings, check out this piece from the recent Washington Lawyer magazine that quotes me and several colleagues.

Finally, here's an update on my upcoming speaking appearances. In January, I'll be giving a book talk at University of Washington Law School as part of the school's Social Justice Tuesdays. The talk is co-sponsored by the law school's Food Law & Policy Association and its Environmental Law Group. In March, I'll travel to Ann Arbor to give a book talk at University of Michigan Law School. That talk is co-sponsored by the school's Federalist Society chapter and its Food Law Society.

That's all for now. I expect that I'll have more updates next month.