Banning Food Photos…From Factory Farming to Expensive Restaurants

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
(photo: Farm Sanctuary)

Separate movements are afoot across the United States to ban the taking of food photos, whether it’s haute cuisine at five-star restaurants or animals being abused on factory farms.


To date, lawmakers in six states have adopted so-called “Ag-Gag” laws that make it a crime to take videos or still photos on industrial farms that reveal illegal or unethical practices towards livestock.


The legislation adopted in North Dakota, Montana, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Utah was suggested by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization known for promoting corporate agendas.


Preventing customers in restaurants from taking photos of their meals also has expanded of late, although the crackdown is not centrally organized like the Ag-Gag laws.


In New York City, chefs such as David Bouley have tired of watching their clientele pull out cameras of all sizes, and even tripods, in the middle of dinner to snap off keepsakes of entrees, as well as appetizers. The use of flash photography has proven irksome to those trying to enjoy their meals, prompting Bouley and other chefs to ban all picture taking in dining areas.


Bouley, for one, has tried to be accommodating to his photo-happy customers, inviting them into his kitchen to capture images of meals fresh off the stove.


Other chefs have not been as nice, simply telling or even yelling at diners to put away their cameras and camera-phones. Some customers, on the other hand, find the prohibition on photo-taking snooty, considering that the photos, when they are posted online, constitute free publicity for the restaurants.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Shocking: Reporting Factory Farm Abuses to be Considered "Act of Terrorism" If New Laws Pass (by Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins, AlterNet)

Restaurants Turn Camera Shy (by Helene Stapinski, New York Times)

Why Does the FBI Treat Videotaping Corporate Animal Abuse as Terrorism? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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