Thursday, September 18, 2008

Are you a foodie libertarian?

I was talking to Reason magazine's senior editor Brian Doherty the other night about food issues and the Libertarian viewpoint. This has absolutely nothing to do with my presidential preferences (already got slammed for that Palin remark earlier), but I think I lean slightly more Libertarian when it comes to food regulations.
The latest case in point: I'm not normally a big MillerCoors person, but I find it annoying that 25 states are asking the beer manufacturer to pull Sparks alchoholic energy malt beverage from the shelves, according to this L.A. Times story. I thought the combo of alcohol and caffeine was kind of genius -- since I normally drink only beverages which have either one or the other of these substances, why not combine the two? Not that you can't just have a Red Bull and vodka and achieve the same effect times two, but why should this company be punished for its ingenuity? Does that mean Lagunitas Cappucino stout could also be outlawed?
As far other government regulation goes:
Foie gras: Definitely allow it, sorry geese, it's just too good.
Trans-fats: Hmm. Guess we're better off without them, but I hope it doesn't hurt the small ethnic places too much.
Calorie counts: Sure, let's require them, restaurant portions are obscene anyway.
Banning fast food outlets in South L.A.?: That's a tough one. No point in doing it unless there's alternatives in place.
and obviously, taco trucks, yes, of course. Let them park wherever the hell they want. Where do you stand?


mummey said...

Foie gras: ok
Trans-fats: They're artificial anyways.
Calorie Counts: I'll laugh out loud when people realize how fastening their restaurant food is.
Fast Food in South LA: Smacks of desperation. Good community management would use incentives to encourage the right places instead of trying to keep the wrong choices out.
Taco Trucks: Wonderful alternatives to restaurant food, as long as they're obeying driving and parking laws/ordinances. Singling them out just seems stupid.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic. Between this question and the "Kitchen Nightmares" post, you're especially thought provoking lately.

If people want to cram copious amounts of lard down their gullets, they should be able to, even if it's disgusting or unhealthy. If somebody doesn't want to eat fast food or tacos from a truck, nobody's forcing them to do that. That decision shouldn't be regulated. Mark Mothersbaugh sang about "Freedom of Choice," and his words should still count for something.

Anonymous said...

Only foods known to be poisonous IN SMALL QUANTITIES should be outlawed. Darn near everything in large quantities will kill lab rats.

Added trans-fats deserve their bad health rep and always should be labeled as such (even on restaurant menus). Hopefully that will be enough to encourage migration to healthier fats.

Ultimately, no one is holding a gun to your head forcing you to eat anything!

I would like to see restaurant menus call out the 'well known' products that can cause allergies.
Sorry, immigrants, get your English fluent children to translate the menu!!

LYT said...

No probs with foie gras, though I don't eat it.

I endorse calorie counts for chain restaurants that have standardized portions, but think it's unnecessarily burdensome on restaurants where every portion might not be the same.

Taco trucks are cool.

Outlawing alcoholic drinks with caffeine is damn stupid. My drink of choice is Jack & Diet Coke, which has both. I admit that when I make it at home I use caffeine-free Diet Coke, but I see no reason to force bars to follow suit.

Doran said...

Foie gras: Of course, but perhaps with minimal regulation regarding acceptable techniques, if they don't exist already.

Taco Trucks: Duh! We need more taco trucks, not less. On the other hand, I might endorse regulations requiring the trucks to serve lengua and cueritos.

Trans-fat: Get rid of it. There are alternatives.

Banning Fast Food: I'm against it, no matter where. I rarely, if ever eat at McD's or JitB, but banning some kinds of businesses just doesn't seem like the right answer. Instead, provide insentives for healthier restaurants. Or perhaps arrange protests to planned construction. I'm not against public shaming of fast food establishments and their owners.

Calorie Counts: I've mixed feelings. Unless we're talking large restaurants with fixed menus, I think it's an undue burden. But even where it is possible, limited information can be dangerous. Calorie counts in themselves say very little about the nutrition of food.

mattatouille said...

most definitely a foodie libertarian. One should be able to eat anything and everything, within obvious reason (like no human flesh, duh). Foie gras? no problem. Veal - give it to me. Calorie Counts? probably too much of a hassle for restaurants, so I'd take 'em out. I know butter is fattening, so you don't need to tell me how many grams of saturated fat it has. Just eat in moderation and you'll be okay. Occasional gluttony can be excused during holidays but ultimately its YOUR body that's getting affected the food. Your gluttony can't kill someone else.

That said, we shouldn't be so damn fat and greedy when we know people out there are dying of hunger. Charity and social responsibility should equal our passion for food. If vegans and Peta cared a lick about people starving, they'd put their efforts toward HUMANS that are suffering, not just animals.

sku said...

I think most foodie/chowhound types will agree with you. We all want to eat all that's good. Two more are allow importation of young raw milk cheeses, and 700ml spirit bottles. Americans miss out on most of the best cheese and Scotch because of these import restrictions.

The harder food issues, where I'm not such a libertarian are things like:

Allowing processed foods or parts of processed foods to be made in China with little regulation and no disclosure on labels.

The practices of agribusiness and factory farms.

In the alcohol world, not providing vital information on labels like who makes a spirit or the alcohol content of beer (thanks Cindy McCain).

All of us want to eat, none of us wants to get sick.

Unknown said...

i'm really surprised to see how many folks are supporting foie gras and veal on this blog. i do believe that people should be able to eat what they want, but not at the cost of torturing animals during their lives before they end up on our plate. i too am a "foodie", but i'm constantly amazed at other foodie's lack of knowledge of how these two foods come to be on our plate. please educate yourself about these methods. i support eating meat, but let's at least be humane to the animals during their lives and in the killing practices we use!!!

Doran said...

From what I've read/heard/seen, neither foie gras nor veal are inherently torturous for the animals involved. Especially given what I've seen at commercial beef, pig and chicken farms. That said, I'm an eater and not a farmer, so I'm certainly no expert.

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