It has now been over a year since my book, the Food Police, came out. Despite the bad luck of it coming out on the day the Boston bombing happened (resulting in a slew of cancelled TV/radio appearances), it has been a fun ride.
I've had a lot of feedback. Some positive, some negative. As if to prove a point about the slowness of the academic publishing world, I've noticed two recent reviews of the book in academically-related publications: one in Agriculture and Human Values and one in Choices magazine. The tone of these reviews are a more negative than many of the others' I've seen, I suspect in part because this book wasn't geared for an academic audience per se and because the book takes issue with a lot of the presumptions that academics have about our ability to know what policies and choices will make people better off.
In any event, these reviews remind me of a common question I get from people that tend to be more critical of the book's message: who are the food police?
I thought the answer was rather obvious (the dedication page says: to those who wish to eat without a backseat driver).
But, in case it wasn't clear (and apparently it wasn't), perhaps I can have a little fun with the question. I'll pay tribute to Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a redneck if . . ." jokes, by offering my own version.
You might be a member of the food police if . . .
you've ever advocated for a food policy without even considering the costs (much less conducting a serious cost-benefit analysis)
you think "natural" is good and "synthetic" is bad
you've said local foods are good for the environment or the economy
you've claimed organic crop yields are generally higher than non-organic
you thought Bloomberg's ban on large sodas was a "good first step"
you've claimed currently approved GMOs are unsafe to eat
you think added salt is natural but added sodium chloride is not
you think the world would be a better place if people just ate (and farmed) the way you wanted them to
your first response to the mention of a new food problem is a new regulation, tax, ban, or prohibition
you think food and agriculture were, on the whole, better in 1954 than 2014
you think sodas or fast food restaurants or gluten should be banned
you've offered taxpayers a free-lunch (the policy kind, not the food kind)
you believe "corporate greed' is the root cause of every food, health, and environmental problem
you've ever asked "who are the food police?"
O.k., O.k., not as funny as Foxworthy, but I think the point has been made . . .