North Carolina Food Censorship Overturned

You are free to blog about your happiness with the paleo diet (or any other eating strategy), even in North Carolina.

I never thought I would be blogging about the “paleo diet” on Political Outcast. But North Carolina anti-First-Amendment licensing laws have forced me to do so.

[See also, “Is the Price of Butter Economic Bad News? No, but It Is Bad News for Michelle Obama.”]

Thankfully, the Institute for Justice made the censors back down.

Last week, the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition voted to adopt new guidelines allowing people to give ordinary diet advice without a government license, thus settling a May 2012 First Amendment lawsuit filed by diabetic blogger Steve Cooksey of Stanley, N.C. The board had previously told Cooksey that his blog offering personalized advice on how to follow the low-carbohydrate “Paleolithic” diet required a government license.

“Last week’s board vote recognizes that North Carolinians do not need the government’s permission to give someone ordinary advice,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Jeff Rowes, who represented Cooksey in his lawsuit. “North Carolina cannot require someone like Steve to be a state-licensed dietitian any more than it could require Dear Abby to be a state-licensed psychologist.”

censorship reality

This is great news. Personally, I’ve found eating an approximation of a pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer diet to have health benefits. I don’t even believe in evolution, but I still find the “caveman diet” helpful.

Sadly, there are many more threats to free speech carried out by licensing laws.

Cooksey’s situation is not unique—the Institute for Justice is currently litigating two similar cases based out of Texas and Kentucky. In Texas, the Texas Veterinary Board wants to use its licensing power to shut down a retired veterinarian who uses the Internet to give veterinary advice to pet owners who often live in remote areas of the world without access to veterinarians. In Kentucky, John Rosemond—America’s longest running newspaper advice columnist—was ordered by the state’s Psychology Board to cease publishing his parenting column because the Board believes John’s column constitutes the “unlicensed practice of psychology.”