One of my favorite things to do as I RV from state to state (or travel from country to country) is try the local food and beverages. But I didn’t know about these weird food laws!
I don’t know if I can call myself a “foodie’” or “a gourmet,” but if we use the definition, “a person with a particular interest in food,” well, that is me. At least I can call myself a food lover. And everyone does agree that a foodie doesn’t have to know how to cook. Whew! That makes being a foodie in an RV a lot less complicated. Whatever your definition, if you eat food on a regular basis, you might be interested in some weird laws across the United States that put some type of control over the use, or consumption, of food.
You should take time out to visit some of these specific laws as you RV around the United States—laws that tell you how much you can eat, how it should be prepared, and how you should eat it.
Mississippi — How much food you can eat
Mississippi passed a law in 2015 that bans restrictions on food portions. The law says the local governments cannot require restaurants to list calorie counts on menus or ban oversized food or beverage portions. So, eat away when you go through Mississippi—there are NO limits but speed limits.
Georgia — How you should eat your food
It’s not an actual “law” but it is an ordinance. It’s on the books and there has been an arrest. In 1961, the City of Gainesville adopted the ordinance that chicken is a delicacy. It was a publicity stunt to promote Gainesville as the “Poultry Capital of the World, “so, they put the ordinance on the books that chicken could only be eaten with a fork, not your fingers. As a practical joke, a 91-year-old woman was arrested celebrating her birthday by Police Chief Frank Hooper but she was quickly pardoned by then-Mayor Myrtle Figueras.
Maine — How food should be prepared
The Maine Historical Society shares that in 1939, a tomato-hating politician from Rockland, State Rep. Cleveland Sleeper, attempted to remove tomatoes from clam chowder when he drafted a bill to criminalize it. It never made it to the books, although he facetiously prepared bills banning tomatoes from chowders for years to come. So, feel free to drop a tomato or two in your chowder, if you think it’s a good idea. Beware there were chowder wars following the suggested bills by Maine chefs and the “no tomato” chowders won.
Florida — How food should be served
According to the Sun Sentinel, a vendor ordinance was passed in 1997. Apparently, the hot dog food vendors were dressing too provocatively in G-strings and causing accidents. A full list of body parts that should be covered up while serving your food from a street vendor cart was outlined. Now when you go to get a hot dog (or other vendor food) in Broward County, you can expect the man (or the woman) to be decently covered.
Wisconsin — How your food will be graded
In 2018, U.S. District Judge James Peterson supported an old law on the books: All butter sold in Wisconsin must be graded. The state can require grade labels on butter packages. Whether the label is there to help the consumer or the butter makers of Wisconsin, we don’t know, but don’t expect to find ungraded butter at local restaurants. You will have to look elsewhere for artisanal butters.
Thanks to Spoon University and Thrillist for posting some of these weird laws for us regular food lovers who didn’t know we might be breaking a law or not supporting one. Do you have a weird food law experience? Tell me about it in the comments.
You will be happy to know every May we have a special day: “National Eat What You Want Day.” Maybe that day trumps all the state laws and ordinances! Maybe we are free as we RV around the U.S. to be food lovers and eat at our discretion on NEWYW Day, regardless of the law.
On a Ft Lauderdale layover, if we had a new hire in the crew, we would have the van driver stop at R Doughnuts and send the newbie in to get us some doughnuts.
R Donuts was a topless doughnut shop. :<)
The Mississippi ban on providing calorie information and portion control reminds me of a YouTube video I recently watched of a European boat show. The yacht builder commented that the tender could hold 5 Europeans or 3-1/2 Americans.
The 3 1/2 Americans would have a hard time getting out the RV emergency exits.
Tells me that the food is “good”, but not “good FOR you”. Heh.