Lexicon of Sustainability: Veggie libel law
Editor’s note: This is your weekly installment of images from Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton’s Lexicon of Sustainability. We’ll be running one image every Friday this winter, so stay tuned. If you have your own sustainability terms, you can add them yourself to the Lexicon of Sustainability.
Most “edible education” initiatives are designed to teach kids about food and show how to lead a healthier lifestyle, but what about adults? Uncovering and disseminating the truth about our broken food system remains a challenge … and it’s not about to get any easier. Last year, states across the country proposed legislation to make the taking of pictures or video of farms or food production facilities illegal (they were all eventually dropped).
Thirteen* states have passed food libel laws to criminalize any behavior which may endanger the profits of a food company (this includes defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures).
Robby Kenner, director of the documentary film Food Inc., says the food industry has little interest in letting us know where our food comes from and what’s in it. His biggest shock came during a congressional hearing on whether cloned meat should be labeled. When the industry rep said, “I don’t think it is in the interest of the consumers to be given this kind of information … it would just be too confusing,” the lack of transparency in our food system became all too clear.
Was this why Kenner made Food, Inc.? Yes. He was curious to know where our food comes from and how we can feed the world in a more sustainable way. “Eating food that is produced in an industrial manner just doesn’t taste as good as it used to,” he says.
*Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas. Twelve of these states’ statutes are civil; defaming a food company is considered a criminal act in Colorado.