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The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate [Kindle Edition]

Jayson Lusk
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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The Conservatarian Manifesto by Charles C.W. Cooke
The Conservatarian Manifesto by Charles C.W. Cooke
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Book Description

A rollicking indictment of the liberal elite's hypocrisy when it comes to food.

Ban trans-fats? Outlaw Happy Meals? Tax Twinkies? What's next? Affirmative action for cows?   
     A catastrophe is looming. Farmers are raping the land and torturing animals. Food is riddled with deadly pesticides, hormones and foreign DNA. Corporate farms are wallowing in government subsidies. Meat packers and fast food restaurants are exploiting workers and tainting the food supply. And Paula Deen has diabetes!
     Something must be done. So says an emerging elite in this country who think they know exactly what we should grow, cook and eat. They are the food police.
     Taking on the commandments and condescension the likes of Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and Mark Bittman, The Food Police casts long overdue skepticism on fascist food snobbery, debunking the myths propagated by the food elite.  You'll learn:
-   Organic food is not necessarily healthier or tastier (and is certainly more expensive).
-   Genetically modified foods haven't sickened a single person but they have made farmers more profitable  and they do hold the promise of feeding impoverished Africans.
-   Farm policies aren't making us fat.
-   Voguish locavorism is not greener or better for the economy.
-   Fat taxes won't slim our waists and "fixing" school lunch programs won't make our kids any smarter.
-   Why the food police hypocritically believe an iPad is a technological marvel but food technology is an industrial evil
So before Big Brother and Animal Farm merge into a socialist nightmare, read The Food Police and let us as Americans celebrate what is good about our food system and take back our forks and foie gras before it's too late!

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Q&A with Jayson Lusk

Jayson Lusk

Q. In your book, you really pull the lid off of the hypocrisy surrounding “the food police” and the crusade against big food companies. Why?

A. Two reasons. The first is that, having grown up around many people involved in agricultural and food production, it was time to set the record straight, and to reveal that these folks are neither stupid nor sinister but rather care passionately about their land, their children, and the foods they make. Secondly, it was becoming apparent that the policies proffered by the food police were largely based on ideological agenda rather than empirical evidence that they’d actually work; rather, the evidence is that the implementation of those policies would harm the very people the food police purport to help.

Q. Do you think salt, sugar, and fat are really addictive? If so, can the “fat taxes” really save us?

A. Eating salt, sugar, and fat are enjoyable. Thus it shouldn’t be surprising that the reward centers of our brain get fired up when we eat them. The argument that these ingredients are addictive teeters on calling anything pleasurable addictive. Calling salt, sugar, and fat addictive is stretching the science to fit an agenda.

The economic research on “fat taxes” shows that the policy will have only trivial effects on weight. Adding a new tax is akin to lowering someone’s income, and few of us are happier with less money. The logic that “fat taxes” will actually help the people who are supposed to be helped is untenable.

Q. In your book, you discuss the importance of us consumers making our own choices. Are we as consumers really so weak as to succumb to the whims of Big Food and their flavor construction, marketing, and placement at the grocery store or deli?

A. There is schizophrenic paternalism that results from an awkward attempt to walk a fine line between a liberal agenda that yields to freedom of choice and expression when it comes to abortion, sex, speech, and drugs but stops short when those same freedoms might benefit evil corporations like Big Food. It is an odd position that posits us so weak as to fall for anything offered by Ronald McDonald or Tony the Tiger yet so strong as to know when to keep a baby alive or which truths to speak to power.

It is true, of course, that we are affected by advertising. However, much of the research shows that advertising is primarily used to persuade consumers to switch brands (rather than buy more). The truth is that Big Food can’t force us to buy anything, and they constantly scurry to meet our every whim.

Q. Are organic or locally grown foods actually better for you?

A. By and large, the answer is no. Numerous scientific studies have shown that the nutritional content of organic is essentially equivalent to conventional. Furthermore, it is a complete misnomer that organics are pesticide-free. Organic producers do use “natural” pesticides, many of which are more toxic than “synthetic” pesticides used on conventional farms. You have to remember that organics are much more expensive than the conventional, and if the choice is between eating fewer organic veggies (because they are more expensive) or more conventional veggies (because they are cheaper), the healthier choice is probably to go with the conventional. Local is a whole other issue, which I unpack in the book. You can eat unhealthy local food or healthy foreign food. One has nothing to do with the other.

Q. Are you concerned with the rise in obesity in America? What are some things that you think can improve this issue?

A. I think a better question is: what should the government do about your weight? That is a much more uncomfortable question but it is the better question to ask. There are a lot of personal incentives to reduce weight. The evidence suggests that people with very high levels of obesity earn lower wages, die sooner, have higher medical costs, and face a lot of social scorn. So, the question isn’t whether I’m concerned about obesity but rather whether the obese are concerned about it themselves.

The good news is that the upward trend in obesity is beginning to level off, and among some groups, has actually begun to decline in recent years. It is important to keep in mind the reasons why we experienced a rise in obesity in the first place, and many of those reasons—from less strenuous jobs to more convenient foods to more air-conditioned offices to less expensive food to the development of microwaves and dishwashers—are cause for rejoicing rather than dismay. That doesn’t mean we can look for ways to have our cake and eat it, too, only that we shouldn’t forget how we got the cake.


"If you are looking for one book to set the record straight on the progress in American food, start here." - Tyler Cowen, author of An Economist Gets Lunch

"Jayson Lusk boils down and slices and dices the hypocrisy of liberals ever growing fetish with America's food in a way nobody has before. No empty calories in this expose. You'll be hungry for more." –Andrea Tantaros, New York Daily News columnist and co-host of The Five on Fox News

“This is hard hitting and to the point.,  And scary. The Food and Drug Administration is mainly known for its activities that "protect" consumers from new and beneficial drugs. But, as Jayson Lusk, shows in powerful and pointed detail, the FDA creates massive levels of mischief and confusion through its misguided regulation of food and drink.  Chocked-filled with telling anecdotes, and informed by strong economic theory, Lusk offers a compelling expose of government misadventure that tends to hurt the very people whom it is said to protect.” - Richard Epstein, law professor at university of Chicago and author of several books

"This is a wonderful and well-written book.  Reading it was a cathartic experience.  It packs an awful lot of common sense and clear headed thinking into a small space.  Lusk makes clear that a lot of what academics and politicians take for granted about our agricultural system is in fact nonsense.  It is tempting to dismiss the food police as well-intentioned, if not exactly well-informed about the science and economics of food production and consumption.   Lusk has reinforced my conviction that to ignore them would be irresponsible.  The food police have considerable clout at the highest levels of government and they think they know best about what everyone should eat, including you and me. If they get their way, they would put at risk the ability of our farms to produce healthy and nutritious food at a price the whole world can afford."  - Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Medicine, Stanford University

"The conclusions from [Lusk's] research will do more to advance healthy eating than would a nation of Mayor Bloombergs." - Jeff Stier in the New York Post.

"​Lusk makes a strong case that the food police are a major obstacle to the kind of innovation we need. Their intransigence on many of the benefits of food modernization — from genetically modified food to industrial farming and synthetic fertilizers, and even modern conveniences such as large-scale grocery stores and today’s shipping methods — is the kind of thinking that will, as Lusk warns, ultimately doom us to poverty." - Julie Gunlock in The National Review

"​Sometimes sacred cows must be slaughtered to get to the truth.  Lusk does that, and in a way that reads like a charming personal memoir by your favorite college professor." - Henry Miller at

"​to newcomers who want the story of how a few cranks took over how a country thinks about food, The Food Police provides an excellent primer." - Center for Consumer Freedom

"​This book is amazing at how it thoroughly describes the how the food police screw things up, increase costs, hurt the environment, and ultimately, cost us freedom." - Matt Rousu

"Whether or not readers agree with Lusk's on agriculture and the politics of food production, he will make you think about your food choices."  - ​Kirkus reviews

Product Details

  • File Size: 1650 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307987035
  • Publisher: Crown Forum; 1 edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009UAO2C8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,524 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding book! April 19, 2013
This book is amazing. It thoroughly describes the how the food police screw things up, increase costs for foods, hurt the environment, and ultimately, costs us freedom.

Some of my favorite lines:

Page 70: "Here is the irony. The behavioral economists have told us for years that humans make mistakes by exaggerating the importance of low-probability risks. Yet I have not seen a single behavioral economist use this insight to tell the food police to relax and put their fears about growth hormones, genetically modified food, or pesticide into perspective"

Page 148: "If we really wanted to curb fat through taxes ... it would probably be more efficient to tax fat people than fat food. ... I have yet to see a compelling argument why taxing fatty foods is any more righteous than taxing fatty folk."

When discussing why just saying "eat local foods" to improve the environment could be counterproductive, on page 168: "Of all the global warming impacts that are said to come from food consumption, only 10 percent is due to transportation, whereas 80 percent is a result of activities on the farm. The implication for those worried about global warming is clear: to reduce the carbon impacts from food consumption, one should grow food on farms where production is more efficient and then ship it to the consumer."

Everybody should read this book. Anybody upset with The Food Police will gain from it, as it will help give an economic foundation to why many of the activities the food police are advocating are wrong. You will find it both enjoyable and educational. Anybody who's initial bias is to restrict food consumption choices, i.e., you are the food police -- I hope you have the courage to read this book to at least understand the other side of the argument. Who knows, maybe you'll even change your opinion!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Until the book Food Police the public has been exposed to only one notion about food: that large food corporations are trying to kill us with unsafe and unhealthy food, factory farmers are raping the soil in their greedy pursuit of profit, and the only alternative is to mimic the Amish system of agriculture.

But now, one of the most prestigious agricultural economists in the world has given us an alternative perspective. Food corporations are merely doing their job, which is making the kinds of foods we wish to buy. There are many reasons to be optimistic about the food we currently raise and our ability to raise food in the future. Converting to local organic farms brings with it many disadvantages that might not be obvious to the non-economist. Those are just three of many examples in this book.

Even if you are a member of the Food Police, this book can help you become a better food activist by helping you see areas where your activism is destructive and when it is constructive. If you are not a member of the Food Police, this book can help you understand when to take the Food Police seriously, and when not to. For those who know a lot about food but little about how food policy is actually conducted--and little about the "experts" sought to inform public policy--this book is essential to forming an educated opinion.

The point is that regardless of your current views on food, this book will make your views more enlightened, rational, and grounded in fact.

It is succinct, well-written, and quite fun to read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Politicalization of Food September 14, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a member of the culinary trade, I have become alarmed at how politicized dining has become. We must have the correct type of food, raised the correct way and never very far from the source. I find this infuriating, but I have never been able to argue my point of view as well as Jayson Lusk has. He devastates every argument for locavorism, so-called sustainable and organic agriculture as well as all the other myths surrounding the food world today. This book is a must read for every foodie who thinks they know better.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Save Your Money For Better Food Policy Books September 21, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was hoping to get a new perspective as a reader from Food Police. I always feel it is important to hear the other side of the story and see where we can meet in the middle.

Even as someone who knows the shortcomings of organic production, supports tech and GE technology in agricultural, agrees on the false beliefs about farm subsidies and agrees there are a lot of positives about our modern agricultural system; The Food Police was a very, very hard book to read. I think it was sad that Jayson Lusk had to use such poor word choices that were obviously meant to play towards a specific political view point.

He went astray by not letting the facts and citations stand for themselves, but making it a political issue with throwing a bunch of conservative v.s. liberal buzzwords. This extra noise took away from some impressive stats, which might of persuaded a reader who did not believe such views.

I would also challenge Jayson Lusk on his view on nutrition and food choices. Jayson is an expert economist. There are also experts on nutrition who should be leading the conversation. I doubt Jayson would call anyone who uses money an economist, the same holds true with nutrition. Just because you eat, does not make you an expert on nutrition. With 50 precent of the population going on to develop type 2 diabetes, nutrition is an issue of society. I agree that we need to be careful with policy and have a strong backing before we just write new legislation. However, Jayson Lusk does not highlight the issues of food supply in regards to nutrition enough in this book.

Overall, I believe Parke Wilde highlighted the errors of the Food Police perfectly (I posted his link below).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very educational and thought-provoking book
Great read. Jayson does a great job of telling a side of the story that is often underrepresented. We need more people in the agricultural industry to step up and communicate this... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Family
5.0 out of 5 stars .... thought provoking, well-documented, ...
....thought provoking, well-documented, common sense rebuttal to all the "politically correct" rhetoric about agriculture and our food supply....
Published 1 month ago by Noteworthy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
Very good book.
Published 3 months ago by Valentine
5.0 out of 5 stars Save Your Famlly from Feel Good Myths and Out Right Lies
A well written and thoughtful debunking of the policies and myths behind our national food policy. I bought my 20 year old kids a copy and begged them to read it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by John Rakestraw
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a factual book written about the U.S. agricultural system
The Food Police is a great book written about food policy, genetically modified foods and organic foods which is filled with sound references supporting Dr. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Karen Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything I've been trying to articulate
In a culture where being uppity about food is the new normal it was extremely helpful for Dr. Lusk to compile a thorough set of counter arguments for those of us who just want to... Read more
Published 11 months ago by James Daniel Rader
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for foodies
If you are interested in an honest look at modern agricultural production, you need to read this book. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Jay Fulmer
2.0 out of 5 stars Like a culinary disastrous mish-mash
This book is difficult to review. On the one hand, Lusk makes a number of good, intelligent points and, relying on facts and cogent arguments, effectively demolishes--or at least... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Conrad Swanson
5.0 out of 5 stars I Liked this book but the title was misleading
I bought this book thinking it was the sequel to "The Mattress Police," which I discovered it was not about halfway through. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Stuff that needs to be told
If you're tired of the overwhelming whining of the food police, this book is well-written by an expert in the food industry. Pollan, beware!
Published 20 months ago by Feed Man
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