The Other Food Court

Lawmakers are cracking down on our right to eat. Check out some of America's weirdest food regulations.

Sangria Legalized in Virginia! 
Bar owners in Virginia can once again serve sangria without risking fines or jail time: Officials recently repealed a Prohibition-era law that forbade serving wine or beer mixed with liquor. Alas, it was too late for an Alexandria tapas bar slapped with a $2,000 fine for serving sangria made with brandy.

300% Tax Stinks, Say Cheese Lovers
During his last week in office, President George W. Bush tripled the tariff on imported French Roquefort cheese, to take one last jab at the French, critics say. The 300-percent tax would have pushed prices close to $60 a pound this spring if the Obama administration had not issued a hold on the tariff.

Los Angeles City Council Tells Public: Hold the Fries
South Los Angeles, formerly known as South Central, has the highest concentration of fast-food restaurants in the city: about 400 within 32 square miles. Not surprisingly, the area also has the highest number of diabetes cases. The city council unanimously approved a measure to put a one-year hold on the opening of new fast-food joints in the neighborhood; the ban is up for extension this summer.

California Sides With Birds on Foie Gras Ban
Despite the repeal of Chicago's unpopular foie gras ban last year, California is set to criminalize the production and sale of fattened duck and goose liver in 2012, citing animal rights. Back in Chicago, chef Didier Durand, who led the protest there, plans to open a foie gras museum.

Energy Drinks Are Losing Steam
Kentucky, Rhode Island and Maine lawmakers have all contemplated bills banning energy drink sales to anyone under 18, citing reasons like “child safety.” However, a serving of many energy drinks contains less caffeine than a cup of joe. Some schools have kept them off campus as part of an effort to cut high-calorie drinks.

Mississippi Restaurants: No Waistline, No Service? 
We're not sure how he planned on enforcing it, but last year, Mississippi Representative John Read introduced a bill that would prohibit restaurants from serving obese customers. Read, who is 5-foot-11 and weighs 220 pounds, says he just meant to start a dialogue on health in his state, which has the country's highest rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The proposal was quickly shot down by legislators.

Hawaii Targets Sugar Impostors
Lawmakers in Hawaii have repeatedly introduced bills banning the artificial sweetener aspartame, citing controversial studies about the additive's link to neurological disorders. If the law ever passes, stores will have to remove 6,000 products containing aspartame. The sticky debate was postponed earlier this year.

Photographs by: Sangria: FoodCollection/StockFood; Scale: Gary Vogelmann/Alamy; Fries: Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images; Sugar Caddy: Dystortia/iStockPhoto.

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