News About Food

Amish Farmer Fights Ohio State Law Regarding Raw Milk

Even though Lancaster County, Pennsylvania gets all the press when it comes to the Amish folk, Holmes County, Ohio has the largest Amish community in the country situated in it. And apparently, there is a feisty Amish farmer there who has decided to take on the rather draconian Ohio state dairy laws under which it is not only illegal to sell unpasturized milk, but it is also illegal to simply give it away.

According to the AP story in the Akron Beacon Journal, the farmer, Arlie Stutzman, is claiming that the law goes against his religious beliefs because it keeps him from sharing the milk that he and his cows produce. Says Stulzman, “”While I can and I have food, I’ll share it. “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.”

Stulzman’s liscense to sell butter and cheese was revoked after an undercover agent in a very nearly unheard-of “milk sting” paid him $2.00 for a jug of raw milk. The state later reinstated the liscense, but Ohio Department of Agriculture regulators want the judge to specifically state that Stulzman may never sell or give away raw milk again.

An interesting case. What I cannot help but think is that Stulzman sold that jug of milk for too little money. I mean, if you are going to get hauled into court over it, why not charge more?

I am on the fence with this issue. While I generally think that if people want to buy raw milk, they should be able to, the laws on pasteurization were put into place for a very good reason–to protect the consumers from tuberculosis and other infectious diseases which could be spread through tainted milk.

However, at this point, I suspect that the laws are enforced not so much to protect the consumer (if that were the case, we might actually have some regulations in place and enforced that protected us more effectively from e coli and BSE in our beef supply) but rather, to protect the large dairy industry which doesn’t want competition from smaller producers.

But, I admit–I could just be cynical about it.

FWIW–I bet Stulzman never expected to see his story in newspapers across the world, but it is. This AP story has gone far and wide appearing in the UK and South Africa, as well as in the New York Times.

Keep up the good fight, Arlie.

The Ethics of Eating Lobster and Foie Gras

New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni and Michael Pollan weigh in on the issue of Whole Foods refusing to sell live lobsters and the current bans on foie gras in communities across the US in light of the ethical considerations of eating both luxury food items.

Not surprisingly, Pollan points out that the plight of lobsters and the birds force fed to produce foie gras is nothing compared to the suffering that happens in a feedlot to produce the millions of pounds of meat that most Americans eat.

“Foie gras and lobster are not at the heart of the real tough issues of animal welfare, which are feed lots and pigs and cattle and chickens and how billions of animals are treated,” said Michael Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” which traces the messy back stories of our meals. “On the other hand, the fact that we’re having this conversation at all — that we’re talking about ethics in relation to what we’re eating every day — strikes me as a very healthy thing,” he said last week.”

Bruni wonders if the reason that lobster and foie gras have been targeted is because they are both luxury items that very few Americans can afford to eat regularly anyway.

Even though I agree with Pollan’s point that worrying about lobsters and force-fed waterfowl is silly when compared with the huge amount of suffering that pigs, cows and chickens undergow in the clutches of the industrial model of agriculture, I agree even more heartily with his view that it is a good sign that Americans are willing to start talking about the ethics of eating.

Even if they seem to be going about it bass-akwards.

Whole Grain Baking Gets a Facelift

For those who hate whole wheat bread because it is heavy, cardboardy with a bitter, acrid flavor, there is hope on the horizon.

This fall, King Arthur Flour is coming out with a new book on baking with whole grains that should prove to be an interesting addition to the cookbook collections of those of us who want to eat more whole grains without sacrificing taste in our baked goods.

According to an article in the Boston Globe, the road to publication for the simply titled Whole Grain Baking was a long and winding one that required much work, creativity and experimentation in the test kitchens of the King Arthur Bakery. Co-author Susan Reid and the others who worked on the cookbook focused on contradicting the stereotypes of whole grain baking. “I call it punishment food,” Reid says. “You know, all those hippie nasty desserts that people remember from Mom’s days in the ’60s.”

Instead, the authors promise to present delectable desserts and breads, like the one pictured on the cover of the book: a raspberry-lemon layer cake baked with whole wheat pastry flour and iced with lemon buttercream.

I’m hooked already, and am waiting impatiently for the book to come out this fall. (Of course, by then, I will probably have a newborn either on the way or present and accounted for, so the last thing I will want to be doing is baking cakes, but–I can look at the recipes and pictures and dream, can’t it?)

7 Comments

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  1. On the raw milk front, I can’t help but think your cynicism may be accurate. Oh, to get some true Camembert.

    Which leads well into my gripe about lobster and foie gras. I believe in educating people. If we as a community CHOOSE to not eat certain foods, then the demand will impact the supply. I have serious issues with other people attempting to outlaw things that I might care to use/consume. Let me choose my way of life. Give me an education and then allow me to use my conscience as my guide. As present meat-handling habits are more widely publicized and more humanely managed meat resources are made available and less expensive, the choice will become obvious.

    Comment by Mark — June 30, 2006 #

  2. Oh, wow, I’m standing in line with you waiting for the King Arthur book, hold your place when baby arrives or hold baby for a bit as we wait. Love King Arthur and babies! Trust all goes smoothly with you.

    Comment by tanna — July 1, 2006 #

  3. Sigh raw milk is $5 a gallon here + a $70 deposit.

    Comment by mujeresliebres — July 3, 2006 #

  4. Mark–I am with you on the education front.

    However, when it comes to fundamentalist vegans–and I use that term with full knowledge that it is probably going to be taken badly–their decision to eat vegan hinges on it being, in their eyes, the only moral or ethical way to eat. In their worldview, there is no -other- moral dietary choice possible. This leads to activism meant not to educate or enlighten, but to reduce the choices others can make regarding their own diets.

    Not all vegans are fundamentalists–quite a few of them take the route of education. But the number of them who are, are very vocal and pretty organized, and so they need a bit of watching. Like all extremists, they think that what they believe is good for all people, and will change the world in a positive fashion, and so they have a hard time seeing any other point of view.

    And yes–ah, for real camembert.

    Tanna–all goes well with Kat and I, and the rest of the family. Rest assured, I will be taking a break for a while after she is born, but as soon as I am up and cooking again, the blog will return.

    Mujeresliebres–at least you can legally -get- raw milk where you are. Here–unless I own the cow or goat and milk her myself–no raw milk for me.

    Comment by Barbara — July 3, 2006 #

  5. It’s really interesting to read about the foie gras / lobster debate going on in the US. And I totally agree with you / Michael Pollan that these are not the most problemmatic issues in terms of animal welfare.

    It’s so easy to target foie gras and lobsters because they’re eaten by those rich hedonistic people aren’t they? This enables people to feel good about the principled stand they’ve made on animal welfare, while not having to change their own behaviours, or question the fundamental components of their diet – their day-to-day consumption of pork, chicken, eggs etc. These are big and difficult ethical questions and really not what most people want to think about.

    Education is vital here, but jeez it’s a difficult and highly unpopular message to get across.

    We’re nowhere near that point here in Australia. There’s a vague awareness of the problem with battery farms and more people are choosing free range eggs but that’s about as far as it goes. There is a huge disconnection between what we eat and where it comes from. And there are fundamentalists on both sides – both animal rights people, but also some farmers, the meat and dairy industry bodies and so on.

    Comment by kathryn — July 3, 2006 #

  6. Yeah, Barbara. I hear ya. I say this to get a rise out of the vegans in our community, but I’ll say it anyway: Those fundamentalist vegans may be vocal and organized, but as meat-eaters, we’ll have the energy to outlast them! Omnivores unite!

    Comment by Mark — July 4, 2006 #

  7. [...] Amish Farmer Fights Ohio State Law Regarding Raw Milk … Holmes County, Ohio has the largest Amish community in the country situated in it. … like the one pictured on the cover of the book: a raspberry-lemon layer cake baked with more [...]

    Pingback by BUSINESS DIRECTORY » Blog Archive » News About Food — July 17, 2006 #

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