March 7th, 2008

The gentleman is always properly dressed

Oh Jesus, he's getting out ANOTHER rulebook

"The most radical thing you can do is make food."

I saw this a couple of days ago, posted in response to a news story about a southern California couple who were facing felony cheesemaking charges after being apprehended selling queso fresco and queso oaxaca in in open-air market. The concept of felony cheesemaking seems the height of absurdity to me. This is a process that was once as common in our kitchens as making soup. I can wrap my head around financial liability resulting from the sale of a tainted product and even fines assessed to a producer as a result of improper licensure, but to attach a criminal penalty as well?

Since I have been steeped in the miracles of pasteurization, I don't want to downplay the dangers associated with raw milk products. That said, we don't have to look any farther than Europe to see that humans have successfully crafted and consumed large amounts of fresh and barely-aged cheese made from raw milk for generations, and continue to do so today. Perhaps they know something that we don't, or maybe they've just clued into the rather common sense idea that healthy animals make good milk.

It seems like there are a lot of laws around food that, though nominally for the public good, end up serving, at best, as revenue generators for the state or as a means of protecting industrial food production methods at their worst. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, there's a whole lot of protecting us from ourselves. The weird thing about all of it is that in spite of the endless regulation, food-borne pathogens still make it into the food supply more frequently than we should be comfortable with, and spread far more widely than is reasonable. Worse than that, on the surface, it appears that the USDA and the FDA are unable to do anything save react, and late at that, to reports of things like potentially tainted beef sold by large producers.

... but you can be charged with felony cheesemaking for relatively small scale production.

So where am I going with this? I don't know, really. On the one hand, it doesn't feel like a particularly revolutionary idea to have a hand in making food or to want to share. Still, when I keep finding my way to discouraging (if not outright oppressive) rules, something as simple as curing bacon starts to look positively subversive.
The gentleman is always properly dressed


From Brenda:


Sorry for the short notice- Been having trouble deciding where to go. We’ve decided to just go to that place over by Alewife. Maybe meet around 7:30-8:00. Would that give everyone time to get over there? I don’t remember the name of the place- Paul seems to remember "the hideaway", but not sure if that’s right. It’s over by the rotary just past Alewife & Whole Foods. Anyway- I hope to see you tonight!

So, anyone for pool tonight? Pablo is celebrating his 35th and will need many beers.