Archive for August, 2013

Ask a Food Lawyer: Breaking Down Legal Barriers for Small-Scale Local Food

Interview with Janelle Orsi, executive director of the Sustainable Economies Law Center

Orsi_Janelle_photoThis time on Ask a Food Lawyer, instead of answering questions, I’m doing the asking. Numerous food lawyers across the country are working hard to improve the food system. From drafting legislation to challenging corporate misconduct to supporting sustainable alternatives, these smart lawyers are playing a critical role, yet receive little credit for the important work they do.

Janelle Orsi is an attorney in Oakland, California who practices “sharing law.” In addition to her law practice, she is executive director of the Sustainable Economies Law Center, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide “education, research, advice, and advocacy for just and resilient economies.” She is also author of “Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy,” a guide for lawyers interested in navigating the emerging field of sharing law. I included her on my recent list of the top ten lawyers in the food movement for offering free advice sessions, or “legal cafes,” for small community-based food and other entrepreneurs through SELC. For more information about Janelle and SELC, visit theselc.org and follow them on Twitter @JanelleOrsi and @TheSELC.

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Is McDonald’s Kid-Themed Business Model Obsolete?

Last month, as USA Today described it, “Taco Bell will shock the fast-food industry on Tuesday by announcing plans to drop kids meals and toys at all of its U.S. restaurants.” CEO Greg Creed told the paper: “The future of Taco Bell is not about kids meals. This is about positioning the brand for Millennials.” Some were skeptical about the announcement, given that kids meals only represent half of one percent of Taco Bell’s overall sales. While increasing pressures on the fast food industry to stop marketing to children wasn’t the main reason for the change, it’s still a significant development.

Read rest at Corporate Accountability International.

How Smart are School Snacks? A Closer Look at New USDA Rules

In April, I submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on behalf of Center for Food Safety regarding proposed nutrition guidelines for “competitive foods” sold in schools. These are foods sold outside the school program and consist mainly of junk food and soda. Our position was that schools should do away with these foods altogether and focus on improved school meals. While some groups celebrated when the interim final rule was released in June, numerous questions remain. (USDA is calling the rule “Smart Snacks in School.”) I asked registered dietitian Andy Bellatti to take a closer look at the new nutrition guidelines for potential weaknesses. You can submit comments to USDA until October 28; the rule takes effect in the 2014 school year.

Read the interview at Center for Food Safety …

All Eyes on Washington State for GE Food Labeling

Yes on 522

While the food movement has been gaining steam in recent years, tangible policy wins have been sparse due to by powerful industry lobbying. One significant victory that appears within reach is the labeling of genetically engineered foods. The narrow loss last fall of Proposition 37 in California has inspired 26 other states to propose similar measures, including Washington, the only state with a ballot measure in November’s election.

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