If you ask around, I’m sure you’ll find quite a few people who will tell you that the government needs to have their say in just about everything. When it comes to banning specific goods or products, sometimes their intentions are good, or so it seems, to keep us out of harm’s way. Other instances, however, are a bit extreme. In the “Land Of the Free,” we are fortunate to not have many things banned from our country, and believe it or not, we are given much more freedom than other governments give to their citizens.
In a few cases on this list, we’ll see that it could be an environmental or safety concern, which it is hard to knock the government for. Considering that we have many dangerous, unhealthy, and overall questionable foods and products floating around the United States, however, it seems silly that some of these items would be banned completely. I personally have a feeling that even if some of these things on the list were accepted, most people probably wouldn’t utilize them anyway. What do you think?
15. Cannibal Holocaust
This one is a rather disturbing story, and although some do not see the reason for banning this film, I can certainly say that I fully understand it. The makers of this film used the “Blair Witch” tactic, years before The Blair Witch Project was ever conceived. The filmmakers created an incredibly realistic and believable backstory, telling the public that a documentary film team disappeared deep in the jungle of South America.
An anthropologist travels to that very jungle in search of answers to what happened to the crew months before. The man comes across “found footage” of the film crew, and the rest is history. The incredibly gruesome, realistic, and troubling imagery in this film is not for the faint of heart. It was so believable, in fact, that the director was arrested and charged with the murder of the film crew (who had been in hiding during promotion of the film to make us believe it was a true story). Once the cast emerged, unharmed, the charges were dropped. However, this does not make up for the incredibly disturbing nature of the film (which does include real animal cruelty). If you dare watch it, or even view still photos of the film, be sure to have a bucket or bathroom nearby. Yikes.
The ban of microbeads in the United States is actually a very recent one, and you may have heard about this story on the news lately. The tiny, plastic beads are found in products such as soaps, toothpastes, and many cosmetic products. The big problem with these itty bitty beads is that when wastewater is cleaned, the systems are not capable of filtering out the microbeads, leading them into natural water sources. This, of course, is bad news because the beads are pure, chemical-ridden plastic, leading to further avoidable pollution of our water. As a result, fish eat the beads, we eat the fish, and therein lies a serious health concern. Although the ban is not complete yet, the US, Canada and many other countries in Europe are working on getting rid of the plastic beads altogether.
13. Shark Fins
Craving some shark fin soup? Not so fast. Don’t plan on getting your hands on some anytime soon, unless you travel overseas to give it a try. The traditional Chinese delicacy is banned in some areas due to the cruelty it takes to obtain the shark fins. The sharks are captured, the fins are harvested, and the sharks, usually still alive, are tossed back into the ocean. The sharks are then left unable to swim or maneuver, and end up dying, usually being eaten alive by other sea creatures. Many do not understand the trouble that goes into collecting shark fins in the first place. Apparently, the meat of the fin is relatively bland and tasteless, relying on broths, spices, herbs to give it any kind of palate appeal. Many organizations around the world are trying to ban the act of harvesting shark fins altogether, in every country around the world.
12. Cuban Cigars
Remember when Beyonce and husband Jay-Z traveled to Cuba, and America lost their cool about it? Well, there was a diplomatic reason behind that. After the Cold War in the early 1960’s, America’s relation with Cuba was severed, and as a result, made it illegal with the United States to do business with the communist island. President Barack Obama has been making efforts to restore our relations, signing off on documents that would ease some of the restrictions regarding the purchase of Cuban goods, as well as American travel to their country. Though our two nations are in communication and somewhat cordial standing at the present time, America remains uncertain about how the country of Cuba is run; the most troubling case being the lack of human rights on the island. For now, we still face restrictions when it comes to giving the country business, Cuba’s famed stogies being no exception.
11. The Federal Mafia
Just take one look at the title, and cover, of this book, and I don’t think it would be hard for you to figure out just why the U.S. Government put the kibosh on the sale of the novel. Many enlightened Americans, when they hear the words “organized crime,” will be quick to point fingers directly at our very own federal government. As a result of the contents of this book, the government made it illegal to sell it in the United States. Those behind the novel, however, found a loophole by not selling the book, but by giving it away for free. Really piques the interest, if a man feels so strongly about what is in his book that he is willing to make no profit off of it; it must contain some really insightful information. I imagine the author has got nothing to lose at this point, considering he has already gone to prison, which is actually where this book was written.
10. Kinder Surprise Eggs
This seems to be everyone’s first thought when you ask about things that have been banned in the United States. The story behind this one is not as much of an interesting one. It is pretty cut and dry. This famous candy, originally from Italy, is a hollow chocolate egg, with a little toy hidden in the middle. The reason this product is on the no-go list for America is actually what makes it so popular in other countries around the world; the surprise inside! The United States deemed this product dangerous to young children, as the small toys inside the egg are not only small enough to be a choking hazard, but because said choking hazard is inside of a food product. America decided that these things are an accident waiting to happen. I wonder just how many, if any, children have bitten straight into these eggs and actually choked on the toy. This one may be an obviously poor choice to some, and brilliant to others. Just keep an eye on your children if you pick one of these bad boys up while traveling abroad!
9. Mirabelle Plums
Yes, that’s right, this piece of fruit is illegal to import to the United States. These juicy plums are native to France, but are kept from being shipped to the U.S., much to the dismay of those who have actually gone to France and tried one of these delicious fruits. The reason behind the ban is relatively vague, and all we really know is that there is some sort of import law that prevents us from ever indulging in a Mirabelle on American soil. Sure, we’ve got plums right here in our own backyard, but there is something about a “forbidden fruit” that makes it all that much more appealing. Some say that it is worth the trip to France to just to get a bite of one of these babies.
8. Fugu (Japanese Blowfish)
Dining on a Japanese “puffer fish” seems to be a disaster waiting to happen. This sounds like a bet you’d make with a buddy after one too many drinks: “Hold my beer, I’ll eat that!” So what is the reason that this fish is deemed too dangerous to eat in many countries? Tetrodotoxin. Tetrodotoxin is a deadly poison that collects primarily in the livers and ovaries of Fugu. Some thrill seekers head to Japan to give Fugu Sashimi (sushi) a try, all too aware of the dangerous possibility that they may not live to tell their tale. Some do make it through unscathed, others experience too high of a dosage of the tetrodotoxin, leading to dizziness and nausea. Some know within minutes that it is not going to be the outcome they were hoping for. The almost immediate results of excessive consumption of the toxin gives warnings of tingling and numbness of the tongue and mouth. From that point, all of your muscles become paralyzed, beginning with the outer extremities and leading inward until it paralyzes your vital organs. Sounds like a good time, huh?
7. Ivory Products
With the dwindling population of African elephants, such is the fate of the trades of ivory products. Ivory goods are produced using the tusks of elephants that have been hunted. Illegal ivory trade in the United States has become a serious issue, leading to a call on the Obama Administration to make some changes. Those selling the products in black markets around the U.S. are finding loopholes, making it increasingly difficult to regulate the trade. Strict guidelines are now being enforced to protect the population of elephants, in hopes that a full, federal ban will be set in place in the near future. The criminals harvesting and importing the ivory seem to have no plans to stop, as they make serious cash in the process, with just one pound of ivory being worth about $1,500. However, very old ivory is allowed into America. It seems like a bit of a hassle, so I won’t begin to try to understand it. Just don’t go overseas and try to bring back anything made of ivory, and save yourself the headache.
6. Collected Rain Water
Collecting rainwater in America is considered theft. Yes, you read that correctly and no, I am not kidding. Believe it or not, there are “rights” to rainwater, the substance that Mother Nature intended to be for, you know, the entire planet… Yet here we are, listening to water companies babble on about how rain water belongs to them, as the rain seeps through the soil and into underground collection systems, yada, yada, yada. I won’t pretend to understand all of the intricacies of water collection, however I still find it a bit bizarre that any corporation can claim that a natural resource belongs to them. Considering a man in Oregon spent a month in jail because of this offense, the government does not take this matter lightly. A bit much, don’t you think?
5. Unpasteurized Cheeses
Technically, unpasteurized milk in general is not allowed in the United States. This ban is not as strictly enforced as others, and it is more of a health concern than anything else. Some unpasteurized cheeses can be made legally in many places in the U.S., however they must follow strict guidelines to achieve a better chance of being safe to consume. Otherwise, the products put consumers at risk for spreading germs and diseases, such as tuberculosis. Some believe, however, that the process of pasteurizing cheeses takes away from the taste and flavors of the products, and many advocates believe that the government should keep its noses out of what Americans eat, and that it is not as dangerous as the FDA says.
4. Sea Turtles
Yet another animal product that is banned from being sold – sea turtle shells and meat. In order to protect some of the endangered sea turtle species, the United States has made it illegal to kill or harm them in any way, as well as importing, exporting, selling, or trading turtles or any goods that were produced using any parts from them. The United States is not the only country banning the use of sea turtle products; it has become a worldwide issue and many countries around the globe are working together in order to save and protect this endangered species from going extinct altogether.
For the last 44 years, this odd Scottish delicacy has been banned from the United States. Comprised primarily of ground-up sheep’s lung, liver, and hearts (among other parts), this food product has been around for hundreds of years, but has been banned in America due to the fact that sheep’s lung is not allowed to be imported into this country. So for decades, Americans have been unable to dig into this rather interesting dish due, in part, to America’s fears about transmission of diseases from some of the ingredients in the product. Many people turn their noses up at the delicacy, yet when you think about it, Haggis really isn’t much different than what we Americans consume in hot dogs and sausages. Have you ever had Scrapple? I can bet that the contents of Scrapple are even scarier than what you’d find inside Haggis. In good news for foodies and cuisine connoisseurs, the United States is considering lifting the ban, so in the near future we may be able to stay right here at home, and get a taste of the infamous Haggis.
2. Ford Focus RS500
Different countries have different laws and codes when it comes to safety on the roads. This car gets its name due to the fact that only 500 of these babies were produced, but don’t expect to find one on the roads in America any time soon. The car’s 345 horsepower makes it popular over in Europe, but illegal here in the States. In just over 5 and a half seconds, the sleek vehicle reaches up to 62 miles per hour. That’s some serious power, and many car fanatics admire the beauty from afar, as that kind of powerful engine is not allowed to be driven on American roads. This is far from the first or last time a powerful vehicle has been banned for having too much power and deemed too dangerous to be driven around.
I know, I know, pretty obvious inclusion, right? Come on, though, how could I possibly write a list of products banned in the U.S. and not include Absinthe? It is not just the reported hallucinations and highly debilitating effects of the drink that keep it from being sold on shelves in American liquor stores. The reason for the ban is actually due to the fact that “The Green Fairy” contains a chemical compound that the government decided was not safe for Americans to consume.
What makes this drink even more dangerous is its tasty appeal. The sweet, licorice flavor of Absinthe makes it go down more easily, and people find themselves consuming glass after glass, leading to unhealthy levels building up in their systems, and quickly. According to studies, the chemical level is not dangerously high, so the makers of Absinthe have been working to lift the ban of their beverage in the United States. I think the sales would do incredibly well, considering some people travel to Europe and have “Drink Absinthe” as one of the first items on their to-do list once they get there.