Biting the Hands that Feed Us
280 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Sep 2016

Biting the Hands that Feed Us

How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable

Island Press

Food waste, hunger, inhumane livestock conditions, disappearing fish stocks—these are exactly the kind of issues we expect food regulations to combat. Yet, today in the United States, laws exist at all levels of government that actually make these problems worse. Baylen Linnekin argues that, too often, government rules handcuff America’s most sustainable farmers, producers, sellers, and consumers, while rewarding those whose practices are anything but sustainable.

Biting the Hands that Feed Us introduces readers to the perverse consequences of many food rules. Some of these rules constrain the sale of “ugly” fruits and vegetables, relegating bushels of tasty but misshapen carrots and strawberries to food waste. Other rules have threatened to treat manure—the lifeblood of organic fertilization—as a toxin. Still other rules prevent sharing food with the homeless and others in need. There are even rules that prohibit people from growing fruits and vegetables in their own yards.

Linnekin also explores what makes for a good food law—often, he explains, these emphasize good outcomes rather than rigid processes. But he urges readers to be wary of efforts to regulate our way to a greener food system, calling instead for empowerment of those working to feed us—and themselves—sustainably.

Linnekin is fervent about flawed policy. His book cleverly and precisely decries how the federal government's rules and restrictions regarding food are a serious disservice to producers and consumers alike. Booklist
Makes a strong case that the biggest issues facing our nation's food supply are ones deserving bipartisan solutions—and that those solutions might actually entail fewer, better food laws instead of a spate of new ones. Huffington Post

Baylen Linnekin, a licensed attorney who holds an LL.M. in agricultural and food law, is the founder and executive director of Keep Food Legal. Linnekin’s writing on food and law has appeared in scholarly publications like the Chapman University Law Review, Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Northeastern University Law Journal, Nexus Journal of Law & Policy, and the Journal of Wine Economics. His writing on food and law also appears regularly in popular publications, including the New York Post, Reason (where he writes a weekly online food-law column), the Huffington Post, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, and elsewhere. He is co-author of a chapter on food and the law in the Routledge International Handbook to Food Studies, an academic textbook, and author of the entry on “food bans” in the second edition of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America.

Linnekin has presented his research on food and food law at University of Chicago School of Law, Harvard University School of Law, Tulane University School of Law, Chapman University School of Law, Northeastern University School of Law, Suffolk University School of Law, Washington College of Law, New York University, Boston University, University of Arkansas, American University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, the La Cocina National Street Food Conference, and elsewhere. Linnekin has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, New York Times, Voice of America, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, Wilson Quarterly, Bloomberg News, Washington City Paper, and numerous other print and online news outlets. He has appeared on Fox Business Channel, Al Jazeera, BBC Radio, Fox 5 WTTG TV (Washington, DC), ABC-7 TV (Washington, DC), Minnesota Public Radio, KCRW, the Laura Ingraham Show, the Rita Cosby Show, the Dennis Miller Show, and many other radio and television outlets. Linnekin is an adjunct faculty member at American University, where he taught Foodways 2.0, an undergraduate class on the many ways emerging social media tools have quickly revolutionized the ways we buy and sell food.
Linnekin enjoys a variety of foods. He kept an organic garden plot in Washington, DC’s best-known Victory Garden for six years. He lives with his partner of two decades, Roxanne, in the Washington, DC area.


Chapter 1. Unsafe at Any Feed
Chapter 2. “Big Food” Bigger Thanks to “Big Government”
Chapter 3. Wasting Your Money, Wasting Food
Chapter 4.  I Say “Tomato,” You Say “No”
Chapter 5.  There Are Good Food Rules

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