IJ's National Food Freedom Initiative - Release 11-19-13

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The Government vs. Your Food

IJ Launches New National Food Freedom Initiative

WEB RELEASE: November 19, 2013
Media Contact: Shira Rawlinson, (703) 682-9320



 

Arlington, Va.—A new national initiative launched today by the Institute for Justice seeks to make sure the government stays out of some of the most personal decisions people make every day:  What we eat and how we get our food.  This nationwide campaign will bring property rights, economic liberty and free speech challenges to laws that dictate what Americans can grow, raise, eat or even talk about.

Read an Associated Press feature on the National Food Freedom Initiative

To kick off the initiative, IJ is today filing three separate lawsuits challenging Miami Shores, Florida’s ban on front-yard vegetable gardens; Minnesota’s severe restrictions on home bakers, or “cottage food” producers; and Oregon’s ban on the advertisement of raw—or unpasteurized—milk.  Each case demonstrates how real the need for food freedom is in every corner of the country.

Watch a short video on each case 

Michigan Forfeiture Video fflix thumb oregon raw milk fflix thumb mn foods thumb
Florida Gardens Oregon Raw Milk

Minnesota Cottage Foods

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“More and more, the government is demanding a seat at our dining room tables, attempting to dictate what we put on our plates, in our glasses and, ultimately, in our bodies,” said Michael Bindas, an IJ senior attorney who heads up the new initiative.  “The National Food Freedom Initiative will end government’s meddlesome and unconstitutional interference in our food choices so that Americans can once again know true food freedom.”

  • IJ is challenging Miami Shores’ front-yard vegetable garden ban in state court on behalf of Herminie Ricketts and Tom Carroll, a married couple who grew vegetables on their own property for their own consumption for nearly two decades before Miami Shores officials ordered them to tear up the very source of their sustenance or face fines of $50 per day.  Learn more about their case:  www.ij.org/FlVeggies.
  • Minnesota allows food entrepreneurs to make certain inherently safe foods—such as baked goods—in home kitchens, but it:  (1) prohibits their sale anywhere other than farmers’ markets and community events; and (2) limits revenues to $5,000 per year.  Violating these restrictions can lead to fines of up to $7,500 or up to 90 days in jail.  IJ is challenging these restrictions under the Minnesota Constitution on behalf of cottage food entrepreneurs Jane Astramecki and Mara Heck.  Learn more about their case at:  http://www.ij.org/MNCottageFoods.
  • In Oregon, it is legal for small farmers to sell raw milk, but they are flatly forbidden from advertising it.  If they do advertise their milk, they face a fine of $6,250 and civil penalties as high as $10,000—plus one year in jail.  IJ is challenging this ban under the First Amendment on behalf of farmer Christine Anderson of Cast Iron Farm.  Learn more about Christine’s case at:  www.ij.org/ORMilk.

These three cases raise important constitutional questions that show how meddlesome government has become in our food choices:  Can government really prohibit you from peacefully and productively using your own property to feed your family?  Can government really restrict how many cakes a baker sells and where she sells them?  Can government really ban speech about a legal product like raw milk?  The answer is no.

IJ’s President and General Counsel, Chip Mellor, said, “For 22 years, IJ has been on the forefront of protecting Americans’ property rights, economic liberty and freedom of speech.  With our National Food Freedom Initiative, IJ will now bring that experience to bear in the most fundamental area—food—so that Americans can be truly free to produce, market, procure and consume the foods of their choice.”




 

Florida Vegetable Gardens

The first case in IJ's Food Freedom Initiative is a property rights challenge to a ban on front-yard vegetable gardens in Miami Shores, Fla.   IJ is challenging that ban on behalf of Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll, a married couple who grew vegetables on their own property for their own consumption for nearly two decades before Miami Shores officials ordered them to tear up the very source of their sustenance.  Learn more about their case at:  www.ij.org/FlVeggies.

 


 

Oregon Raw Milk

The second is a free speech challenge to Oregon’s ban on the advertisement of raw —or unpasteurized—milk.  It is legal for small farmers in Oregon to sell raw milk, but they are flatly forbidden from advertising it.   IJ is challenging this ban under the First Amendment on behalf of farmer Christine Anderson of Cast Iron Farm.  Learn more about Christine’s case at:  www.ij.org/ORMilk


 

Minnesota Cottage Foods

The third is an economic liberty challenge to severe restrictions on “cottage food” producers in Minnesota.  The state allows entrepreneurs to make certain inherently safe foods, such as baked goods, in home kitchens, but it:  (1) prohibits the sale of such homemade foods anywhere other than farmers’ markets and community events; and (2) limits revenues to $5,000 annually, which averages only $96 per week.  IJ is challenging these restrictions under the Minnesota Constitution on behalf of cottage food entrepreneurs Jane Astramecki from Farmington, Minn. and Mara Heck from Minnestrista, Minn.  Learn more about their case at:www.ij.org/MNCottageFoods.




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