Monday, August 25, 2008

Seperation of Church and Plate

This shot hails from the Charlottseville Far Mar (more later), but our story begins in Little Rock.

Fat Tire isn't available east of the Mississsip, but it's Elise's favorite beer. Actually, that's probably why it's her favorite. (My guess is that it's also Batman's.) So any time I'm in F.T. distribution range, it's a fair bet that my suitcase will end up pretty clanky.

I planned to score a case at a Whole Foods nee Wild Oats in Little Rock. There I was delighted to find many offerings from New Belgium as well as several Arkansas muscadine wines. I loaded up my hand basket, thrilled to support local food culture (albeit through a Whole Foods) and partake of regional products not available in my native foodshed. There was only one problem: it was a Sunday, and we have some @$$ backwards laws.

Yes, in many parts of the country this flagrant breach of the separation of church and state can seriously halt your intentions to partake of the fruit of the vine. Granted, the U.S. is perhaps the most free society on the planet, but that's why it's such a shocker when it's not. My efforts were blocked by an archaic and offensive blurring of government and someone else's religion. Instead, all I got was a bag of watercress.

Harvested too late and already flowering, it was bitter beyond eating. On top of that, the micro-fridge in my hotel did what those things always do and froze it solid. The next day the bitter, icy greens gradually melted into a rotting, stinking, mess of leaves and juice that stunk up my grub sack. Clearly, this was our government's fault.

Flash forward to last Saturday, when I had the pleasure of finding myself at the thriving Charlottesville Farmer's Market. There I met the fellow in the picture at top, a man who had even more reason to be pissed off about governmental impositions on what we're allowed to eat and drink.

I don't know about you, but my god wants me to eat raw milk cheese and drink muscadine.

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Laura Kelley said...

Part of the problem with selling raw milk and cheeses in the US is the litigious society we live in.

On the off chance that someone gets sick with C jejuni, E coli or any of the other bugs that love to live in raw milk - they will probably blame the dairy farmer that sold them the cheese and take legal action to get "compensation" for causing them injury.

If consumers of raw milk and cheese would take personal responsibility for potential illnesses caused by ingesting these products - the ban would be all but unnecessary.

Having gotten sick with a few of these bacteria overseas, I can personally attest that they can take many thousands of dollars of high-tech medical care to get rid of, they can kill you, and they can leave victims with long-term sequelae like chronic fatigue and kidney damage that last the rest of their lives.

Those stakes coupled with our irrational, immature, law-suit prone society is a bad combination. The government, of course is dammed if they try to protect people by banning these products and blamed for negligence if they fail to.

Could you imagine dairy farmers who sell raw-milk products collecting and storing written disclaimers from each of their customers? I can't - and yes, its a damn shame that some work around can't be found.

Until we in the US mature enough to take personal responsibility for their actions - raw milk porducts will be driven further underground and only those who can afford to get them overseas will be able to enjoy their taste.

Debs said...

I think it's less about personal responsibility and more about accurate information and corporate interests. Plus a little fear-mongering and being out of touch with our food.

People get sick from agribusiness spinach or tomatoes, but do we stop producing those? Or stop shipping food all over the country? No, in that case the food isn't blamed. But people get sick from raw milk? It must be the milk!

Nice post, Aaron. And I like your point about separation of church and state. That's always pissed me off too.

Food Is Love

Aaron Kagan said...

Thanks to Laura and Debs for such an in-depth response. Clearly this is an issue close to your hearts, or at least your stomachs.

Yeah, why aren't the biohazard suits showing up to close down spinach and tomato farms? (Not that I want them to.)

Lee Cullens said...

For a fairly thorough treatment of the milk issue and why many believe what they do, you might read the article "Is Soda Pop or Milk Healthier?" at

Other natural health issues are addressed there also, all in a strictly noncommercial environment :o)

My best to you and yours,
Lee C

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