Sheep guts for all

It is no secret that our state has something of a loose relationship with certain federal laws. In 2012, Colorado became the poster child for the marijuana legalization movement when voters passed Amendment 64, permitting recreational consumption of the drug. Two years ago in 2019, Denver became the first city in the United States to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, another Schedule I controlled substance. These two plebiscites, though close, represented the Centennial State’s willingness to buck draconian legal accords that they viewed as overreaching.

So, in keeping with the spirit of my fellow Coloradoans, I say it is time we legalize haggis at the state level.

Haggis is food traditionally consisting of a sheep’s innards, wrapped in the animal’s stomach. It is the national dish of Scotland and was introduced at-large to the United States as Scots migrated westward following the Highland Clearances. In 1971, the Food and Drug Administration banned the import of haggis citing food safety concerns. Namely, the presence of sheep lungs which could potentially contain bacteria-laden stomach fluids.

From a health standpoint, there is no evidence suggesting that haggis is more likely to cause food poisoning or illness than any American equivalent. In reviewing the numbers published by the Center for Disease Control and their British counterpart, the FSA, the United States has more than 8 times the number of hospitalizations and 16 times the number of deaths related to foodborne illnesses despite only having 5 times the population. The stark contrast in health outcomes might suggest that the British, not the Americans, have their ducks more in a row on the matter of food safety.

It’s possible that the ban was meant to serve as a political reprisal for bucking the United States’ in favor of continental Europe during accession talks initiated by then-Prime Minister Wilson. Were that the case, certainly the UK’s recent reversal in alignment would justify a retraction of the policy.

Indeed, prior to the 2020 presidential election, there were talks of an impending USA – United Kingdom trade deal following the latter’s exit from the European Union. A part of those talks contained provisions for permitting haggis imports from the UK, of which Scotland is a constituent nation. However, as the Biden administration has settled into the White House, priorities appear to have shifted and a transatlantic trade agreement no longer seems imminent.

With more than 20 million Americans claiming Scottish ancestry (4 times the actual population of Scotland), the continuation of the ban infringes upon the cultural connections of millions of American citizens. Traditions like Burns’ Supper, where haggis is a staple, are made to utilize inferior, less-authentic, or even vegetarian domestic products.

While there’s no prominent black market for the sale and consumption of haggis, I would liken the present ban to the disastrous implementation of Prohibition in the 1920s. It’s uninformed, reactionary, and just plain wrong. I hope all freedom-loving men and women will join me in saying: sheep guts for all!

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