This fall, Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow and Julio Frenk, dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, issued the “Deans’ Food System Challenge” (one of several competitions held by the Harvard Innovation Lab and sponsored by Harvard Schools), encouraging students across the university to come up with fresh ideas for solving complex problems facing our food system.
With national attention focused on the obesity epidemic and the diabetes crisis—along with rapidly growing concerns about social justice and environmental problems related to the current food-production system—there may be no hotter topic in law schools right now than food law and policy. The wildly popular new Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, the first law school clinic of its kind in the world, is right at the center, with students working on a wide range of projects to make healthy food more accessible, help farmers’ markets overcome regulatory barriers so they can sell more of their products, guide states and local communities in creating food policy councils, and more.
The dispute over raw milk has become one of the most heated debates in the food law community over the last several years—proponents and opponents alike have even staged protests at the White House. Raw milk is currently illegal in 22 states. On Feb. 16, the Harvard Food and Law Society staged a debate on the issue at Harvard Law School.
The Harvard Food Law Society recently co-sponsored “TEDxHarvardLaw,” a full-day conference held on Oct. 21, focused on food policy and public health, and the legal and policy approaches to increasing the supply and demand of healthy foods. The campus-wide event was independently organized and co-sponsored by 18 different HLS organizations under the auspices of TEDx, a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.