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Big Brother at Your Table

by Julie Gunlock

The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate, by Jayson Lusk (Crown Forum, 240 pp., $24)

There has been an explosive growth in government power in recent years, from the health-care system to the financial-services sector. Compared with such breathtaking assaults on liberty as Obamacare, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sodas might seem to be an issue that conservatives can shrug off. But Jayson Lusk’s new book explains that government’s growing intrusion into Americans’ eating habits should not be ignored. Politicians now think it’s perfectly appropriate to try to limit the amount of soda people consume; to tinker with food manufacturers’ recipes by restricting the use of certain ingredients (including sugar, salt, and trans fats); to ban toys in Happy Meals and restrict what restaurants offer their customers.

Lusk is more than qualified to tackle these issues. In fact, his curriculum vitae almost makes him look like a double agent: He could easily be mistaken for the food nannies about whom he writes. An agricultural-economics professor at Oklahoma State, Lusk has written about food and agriculture policy for more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and has served on the editorial councils of seven top academic journals. If this impressive academic career doesn’t give him that whiff of liberalism, there is also this: He wrote the book while taking a sabbatical in Paris.

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