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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.

Find Me Writing, Speaking, and Gleaning

I'm pleased to provide an update here on some of my recent and ongoing work.

My latest piece for the New Food Economy was published today. In the lengthy article--which runs around 4,000 words--I describe details of a fascinating recall of potentially hazardous egg rolls last year, explain the role previously unreported FDA and USDA bickering played in the recall, and describe the complex and confusing overlap of agency regulatory authority. I'm very happy with the piece, which I think really pops thanks to documents I obtained through a FOIA request I filed with the USDA in November. I also continue to write weekly for Reason. Please check out my columns here.

On the speaking front, my fall calendar is also quite busy already. I'll be conducting a book talk and webinar for Northwestern University Alumni Association on Sept. 28. I'm a proud alum of Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy (MA '01). In October, I'll be in Wisconsin for the annual meeting of the board of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, where I'm a board member. I'll then travel to New York City, where I'll first give a book talk at St. John's University Law School (Oct. 19) and then discuss an article I'm writing about foraging as part of Fordham Urban Law Journal's annual Cooper-Walsh Colloquium (Oct. 20). The following week, I'll deliver a book in Seattle to a group of home economists, Euthenics of the Greater Seattle Area. And in November I'll again take part (for the third year in a row) as a guest faculty member at the annual Food Law Student Leadership Summit. This year's summit is hosted by UCLA Law School.

Finally, I'm thrilled to report on some volunteer work I've done in recent months with a terrific Seattle nonprofit, FareStart. I serve as a Food Recovery Ambassador and Food Recovery Committee member with FareStart as they work to expand their outreach to farmers and food hubs in service of reducing food waste, combating food insecurity, and training culinary professionals. Additionally, I take part in FareStart’s volunteer gleaning efforts. I've had the good fortune to reach out to farms and food hubs about recovering excess food, helped to plan FareStart's food-recovery efforts, and visited farms outside Seattle to pick excess produce. I've already helped glean nearly 200 lbs. of blueberries that FareStart has turned into food its budding culinary professionals serve to Seattleites in need.

Updating My Recent Food Law & Policy Work

Since moving to Seattle earlier this year, I've continued my longtime focus on scholarly research and writing, popular-press writing, and public speaking in the area of Food Law & Policy.

Last month, for example, I was honored to take part in a faculty workshop at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder. At the invitation-only workshop, food-law faculty and other scholars from around the country presented works in progress to fellow faculty. I discussed a draft of my article on the historical origins of food freedom, which I trace back to colonial America and which I tie to language in both the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. The Academy of Food Law & Policy, where I serve as a founding board member, sponsored a fun mixer during the workshop.

In addition to my food-freedom research, I’m currently working on an article on the law of foraging--which I also focused on in my book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable. I’ll present that working paper in September at a Vermont Law School faculty colloquium. While I've been working on scholarly writings and reviewing those of others at workshops, I’ve also served as an invited peer reviewer for several scholarly publications, most recently for the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and the Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics.

I've also kept up a busy speaking schedule, with recent talks in Hawaii, Oregon, and elsewhere. I've also made several appearances in the media. These include appearances on NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show and on popular radio shows in Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and elsewhere around the country.

In addition to regular speaking appearances, I've also taken my writing to new venues. The New Food Economy, an award-winning, long-form food-policy website, published an excerpt from my book in May. That was followed by the publication of two original pieces I wrote for the website, both of which expanded on topic areas I covered in my book. The first New Food Economy piece focused on a massive 2014 recall of tainted meat that was spurred by a combination of inane USDA slaughterhouse regulations and incompetent USDA oversight. My second piece for the New Food Economy, published just last week, focuses on fatal flaws within the USDA’s dairy checkoff program. In addition to these and other articles, I continue to write a weekly online column for Reason, where I recently celebrated my fifth anniversary as a regular columnist. In one recent column, I detailed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' hearing of Idaho's appeal in the so-called "ag gag" case, which I attended in Seattle last month. Readers may recall that I helped organize an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, who rightly challenged the Idaho law as violative of their First Amendment rights.

Finally, on a more personal note, I'm thrilled to have received word last week that I've been awarded a garden plot in the Troll's Noll, a small community garden in the city's Fremont neighborhood. The garden is located around the corner from the famed Fremont Troll, and a short walk from my home. While it's late in the planting season, the plot already contains a gorgeous blueberry bush, to which I hope to add tomatoes, herbs, and hot peppers!

Updates on Service, Speaking, & Writing

It's been a while since I updated this blog. This is due in large part to my recent move across the country from the Washington, DC area to Seattle. Here's some recent news on my professional service, speaking, and writing.

Service - I'm pleased to announce that I recently joined the board of directors of the nonprofit Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. The FTCLDF defends the rights of family farms and protects consumer access to raw milk.

Speaking - In January, I delivered a talk on food safety regulations in Maui, Hawaii. The talk was sponsored by the Grassroot Institute. The next day, I gave a book talk at the University of Hawaii Law School in Oahu. The law school's Federalist Society student chapter sponsored the talk. Earlier this week, I gave a book talk at the University of Oregon Law School. The talk was co-sponsored by the law school's Federalist Society and American Constitution Society student chapters.

Writing - I recently published an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee on an excellent California bill that could lift many restrictions on food sales by home cooks. I also continue to pen a weekly column for Reason magazine's website, as I've done for the past five years.

'Biting the Hands that Feed Us' Named One of Civil Eats' 'Favorite Food and Farm Books of 2016'

I'm thrilled that my book Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable has been named one of Civil Eats' "Favorite Food and Farm Books of 2016."

Biting the Hands That Feed Us
By Baylen Linnekin
Laws and regulations are designed to help us, right? When it comes to building a sustainable food movement, that may not always be true. In this provocative book, lawyer Baylen Linnekin makes a case for why U.S. food policy might benefit from a “less is more” approach. He shares examples of how laws have created unnecessary food waste, prevented residents from growing food in home gardens, and overburdened small producers and growers with regulations requiring them to use pricey equipment—instead of less expensive methods that would achieve similar outcomes. Linnekin leaves the reader with guiding principles of how we can transform food policy in a direction that promotes—not inhibits—sustainability.
— Kristine Wong

Biting the Hands that Feed Us has also won plaudits from Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey and "beyond organic" farmer and author Joel Salatin, authors Nina Teicholz and Michele Simon, publications like Huffington Post, Politico, Reason, Men’s Journal, and Acres U.S.A., and book reviewers at Booklist and Foreword. Check out what they've said about Biting the Hands that Feed Us here! And pick up a copy of the book (makes for a terrific holiday gift!) here.