Welcome!

Welcome to On Food Law, a food law and policy blog administered by the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy at UCLA Law.  This blog will be a forum for food law scholars, policymakers, media, the food industry, and the interested public to engage with and discuss research in and ideas about food law and policy.

Food is, at once, the most personal and the most political.  Food affects all of us and the law affects all of food.  The things we eat, from morning coffee to late night snack, come to us as they are as the result of an elaborate web of legal regulations.  On Food Law’s goal is to build an understanding of the law of food, and ultimately improve both the law and our food.

We hope to foster and amplify the conversation among the many stakeholders, including industry, activists, academics, and politicians. Our authors will include members of the Food Law Lab, Resnick Center, Harvard Law, and UCLA Law faculty, staff, and students, as well as other scholars, policymakers, and individuals with ideas that may affect the food system.  We will also cross post to other blogs and relevant publications.

We would like for this blog to be a place of thoughtful discussion, and although our default is no comments, we will consider opening specific posts to comments or publishing responses.  Please see our policies.

Finally, please join the discussion, share what you see here, and stay in touch.  Follow us on Twitter at @UCLAFoodLaw and @thefoodlawlab, or email us at resnickprogram@law.ucla.edu, info@foodlawlab.com, or winters@law.ucla.edu.

Featured post

Reflections on the 6th Annual Food Law Conference: Current Trends & Perspectives Beyond the Beltway

by Alexa Libro*

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of attending CLE International’s 6th Annual Food Law Conference. I vividly remember attending the previous food law conference in San Francisco in February of 2020, deliberating on whether it was appropriate to shake hands and how often to use hand sanitizer. A lot has changed since then, including food law. This evolution of food law was demonstrated in every session of this year’s food law conference. Ann Oxenham, the Acting Director of the Office of Compliance in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) at the US Food and Drug Administration spoke of tech-enabled traceability as a part of the FDA’s new era of smarter food safety. The General Counsel Roundtable session exemplified how food businesses had to adapt to navigate supply chain issues, labor issues, and remote work. Thus, ending the conference with a session on the future of food law was the perfect way to reflect on how food law has evolved and surmise its next evolution.

In the Future of Food Law session, Michael Roberts, the Executive Director of the Resnick Center, moderated a conversation with two of his former students, Evan Graham Arango and Jason Lawler. The conversation illustrated why food is currently top of mind for everyone, not just food lawyers. The pandemic forced us to think about where our food comes from. For many, it was the first experience with gardening or baking bread. For many, it was the first experience not finding numerous items on a grocery list. For many, it was the first or worst experience with food insecurity.

Evan Graham Arango, the owner, founder and farmer at Ojai Roots Farm in Ojai, California noted people’s interest in regenerative agriculture and eating locally. I’m speculating that many people, like me, watched documentaries about regenerative agriculture, such as Kiss the Ground and Biggest Little Farm, when they were stuck inside, and were inspired. Regenerative agriculture and its potential to sequester carbon from the atmosphere brings to the forefront the connection between our food system and climate change

Jason Lawler, an associate at Sidley Austin LLP, elaborated on how his work around the business of food interfaces with climate change realities. Businesses are aware that consumers vote with their wallets, which encourages existing businesses to voluntarily offset carbon and new businesses to form with the goal of sequestering greenhouse gases.

Michael Roberts posits that the future of food will revolve around information. As artificial intelligence gives us more insights into what to grow, how to grow it, where to grow it, and when to market it, he wonders how to democratize that information and ensure fairness in data collection and ownership. As a consumer, I wonder how all that information will be relayed to me so I can make good food choices. To all the current and aspiring food lawyers, I look forward to seeing how we navigate the future of food law and reflecting on our progress at the next food law conference.    

*Alexa is graduating this year from UCLA Law. She graduated from UCLA with a BS in neuroscience with highest honors and a minor in biomedical research in 2017. At UCLA School of Law, she has been coexecutive chair of the Food Law Society and is currently chief managing editor of the Journal of Environmental Law & Policy. She is also a research assistant with the Resnick Center.

Food waste management in the US, UK and Japan

by Minako Kageyama Tanaka

This is the second of three blog posts by Minako Kageyama Tanaka* on food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan.

Food recovery hierarchy commonality and difference

How do the three countries tackle the food waste issue? The US, the UK and Japan articulate their food waste reduction strategies in their food recovery hierarchies. These hierarchies showcase available food waste reduction and recycling approaches and nudge people to take action in the order of least environmental impacts. Although the recovery steps in the three countries are not the same, the countries share many approaches. For example, all three countries start their hierarchy with the reduction of food waste sources. Redistribution of surplus to people and animals comes next, and recycling is the countries’ third preferable action.

However, each government’s recovery hierarchy differs slightly in its types of methods and actions. For instance, Japan is the only country among the three that specifically mentions using digestates for mushroom beds in its hierarchy. And the UK is the only country that sets landspreading in its hierarchy. These examples highlight these countries’ intentions to promote such recycling methods. 

Continue reading “Food waste management in the US, UK and Japan”

Call for experts – High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition

The High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to world food security and nutrition. 

During its 46th plenary session, the Committee on World Food Security requested the HLPE to produce a report on “Reducing inequalities for food security and nutrition”. As part of the report elaboration process, the HLPE is now calling for interested experts to apply to the ad-hoc Project Team for this report.   

Experts wishing to apply to this call shall find all the information here.

The importance of food literacy

by Rose Sarner* (Guest Blogger)

“It’s one thing to provide people with food and it’s another to teach food literacy.” According to Fast Company, in 2021, “54 million Americans do not have access to healthy food,” and according to NPR, “80 percent of Americans fail to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables.”  

Healthful food and its many benefits are not an everyday reality for many families in the world. Here in the United States, young kids, teens, and adults have little knowledge about the foods they are putting into their bodies, where the food is coming from, or how different foods affect their overall health. The programs that are in place that are supposed to “educate” Americans are not engaging, clear, or very informative and this failing has contributed to the current health and obesity crisis in the United States. Making health sustainable is a multifaceted issue that has many layers. Many individuals fall short of taking care of their health issues because they do not know how to make a life switch and sustain their progress. 

Our schools can play an important role in changing dietary habits by educating students on food literacy.  According to The Centers for Disease and Prevention, “US students receive less than 8 hours of required nutrition education each school year, which is far below the 40–50 hours that are needed to affect behavior change.” Additionally, educators are encouraged to teach nutritional education classes at schools; however, given the important role a person’s consumption of healthy foods has in preventing chronic diseases and supporting good health, ideally, educators would provide students with more hours of nutritional instruction. Research has proven a connection between healthy diets and one’s emotional well-being, and how emotions may influence eating habits (The Centers for Disease and Prevention). Due to the large number of required classes in many schools across the country, administrators and teachers should consider ways to integrate nutrition education into their existing curriculums.  

Continue reading “The importance of food literacy”

The problem of food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan

by Minako Kageyama Tanaka

This is the first of three blog posts by Minako Kageyama Tanaka* on food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan.

Food waste in the world

Many people pay attention to what they eat, but not to what they did not eat. According to an estimate released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one-third of the edible part of food is wasted every year, which amounts to 1.3 billion tons per year. Given that between 720 and 811 million people are facing hunger and 2.37 billion people lack access to sufficient food, the amount of food waste is enormous. Besides, wasting food means wasting resources spent on food production and the supply chain.

To change the global consumption and production patterns in the food industry and its supply chain, the United Nations (UN) has set responsible consumption and production as one of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and calls for actions to “halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses” by 2030. The global society has only eight years left to achieve that goal.

Continue reading “The problem of food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan”

JOB POST! International Food Law and Policy Fellow at the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy, UCLA Law

The Resnick Center for Food Law & Policy is looking for an International Food Law & Policy Fellow. Come join us! You can find the application here.

The International Food-Safety Law and Policy Fellow will research and write on innovative international best practices in food safety as part of the Resnick Center’s current scholarship on transformative governance models in food law. The fellow will work closely with faculty and staff at the Resnick Center and other researchers at UCLA and its project affiliates to research, analyze, and write a major report (the “Food-Safety Initiative”) on the transformation of food-safety best practices into policy. The research would include a focus on key concepts such as cooperation, information sharing, and partnership building. China will be one of several countries used as case studies.

The ideal candidate should have knowledge or interest in the field of international food policy and food systems theory, and have demonstrated capacity in analytical research and writing, with an ability to translate academic concepts to practical application.  

Open until filled.

JOB POST! Summer Internship, Food and Ag Law, Vermont Law School

Applications due January 14, 2022.

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School is seeking law student applicants for our Summer Honors Internship program. Interns will receive a $5,000 stipend to work full-time with CAFS from May 31 to August 5, 2022 (in Vermont or remotely). 

Interns will work alongside CAFS faculty and staff on a wide range of projects. In past summers, interns have worked on projects related to farmland access and equity; food labeling and regulation of novel food products; legal barriers facing food hubs; laws and regulations that protect the health and safety of farmworkers; legal resources for farmers markets; and biodiversity and agriculture. They have worked alongside project partners from Agrarian Trust, Farmers Market Coalition, and the Farm Bill Law Enterprise, among others. Tasks are dependent on project needs and may include legal research, drafting law and policy documents, conducting original research in the form of interviews and surveys, drafting case studies, and providing general support.

Vermont Law School’s Summer Session draws visiting faculty and lecturers from around the country and the world. Interns will have the opportunity to attend the summer lecture series and to meet with scholars and food system practitioners in small groups.

Continue reading “JOB POST! Summer Internship, Food and Ag Law, Vermont Law School”

JOB POST! Summer Internship, Harvard Law Food Law & Policy Clinic

Summer interns have the opportunity to engage in action-based learning to gain a deeper understanding of the complex challenges facing the food system, including hands-on experience conducting legal and policy research for individuals, community groups, and government agencies on a wide range of food law and policy issues. Interns are challenged to develop creative legal and policy solutions to pressing food issues, applying their knowledge from the law school classroom to real-world situations.

Summer interns will be eligible for a financial stipend of up to $4,000 from the Food Law and Policy Clinic, should they be unable to secure funding from other sources (we ask interns to demonstrate proof of having sought other funding but not receiving it). It is anticipated that the summer intern program will be in person this summer. 

The internship will run from May 31 to August 5.

Click here for the link to information and the application. The deadline to apply is 1/21/22, but early applications are strongly encouraged and applicants are being accepted on a rolling basis.

JOB POST! Center for Biological Diversity: Food and Agriculture Policy Specialist

Happy holiday season! Welcome to a new feature of On Food Law – job postings in food law and policy. As we come across them, we will post links to current job openings – the title of the post will always start with “Job Post” (for searches).

We will also post job openings on our Instagram stories (@uclafoodlawcenter).

Please keep in mind that we are not vetting or monitoring these openings, just posting. And please send any food law and policy job openings to winters@law.ucla.edu.

Click here for the CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: Food and Agriculture Policy Specialist listing.

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