I really wanted to write something cheerful today.

(Disclosure: I’m writing this Tuesday evening so it’ll be ready for you all in the morning.)

But then I made the mistake of looking at the news.

Yeah, I know, I know.

I presume you’ve heard by now that our government has declared meat processing plants to be critical infrastructure.

I’m an unrepentant omnivore, and I was not looking at the predictions that meat could follow toilet paper* into virtual non-existence on store shelves.

* Our TP supply dropped low enough last week that we went in search of a few rolls. As it turned out, we found some in the first store we checked. It’s a 30 roll package, which should be enough to stave off the total fall of civilization for at least a month, and quite probably several times that. Mind you, it’s a Korean brand–not the one everyone knows–and of totally unknown quality, but it’s almost certainly better than, say, last week’s newspapers. We haven’t tried it yet, but in the spirit of helping one another, I’ll issue a report once we’ve put it to the ultimate test.

So, on one paw, it’s good to know that meat will remain available. On another paw, though, the fact that our gracious president highlighted the fact that his declaration will “solve any liability problems” does lead one to wonder (a) just how sweeping that immunity from liability is and (b) just how safe that meat will be. On a third paw, one also has to wonder what effect the presidential order will have on the cost of meat. And, on the fourth paw, will that shield remain in place indefinitely?

Let’s face it. The current administration is fond of rolling back laws and regulations that improve the health of most individuals. And, as we all know, the meat packing industry’s favorite recreation is dancing back and forth across the red line of legality.

Without more details than we have right now, I can only assume that the price of meat is going to go up in lockstep with the health risks of eating that meat. And there is, of course, no upper limit to either cost.

I see only one solution for those of us who aren’t going to go vegetarian.

Anyone got a good recipe for coyote?

If You Say So…

There’s an interesting trend going on in the area of denial of science and common sense. No, I’m not talking about “intelligent design”/evolution denial or climate change denial. It’s in the area of food and food safety.

Case in point: Chobani Yoghurt* recently advertised that they produced a 100 calorie serving of yoghurt without scientific help. There’s a great destruction of the claim on Popular Science, but that’s beside the point.

* Thanks to Maggie for tipping me to this story.

The point is this: Somebody at Chobani thought this claim was a good idea.

Another example: Organic Valley is running radio ads touting the fact that, and I quote, “Our milk, butter, and cheese are pasture-raised.” This isn’t isolated to their radio ads, by the way. As I write this, their website proudly announces “Pasture-Raised™ whole milk is nutritionally excellent“* (emphasis theirs). Please note: it’s not the cows that are pasture-raised, it’s the dairy products. Yep, they’ve apparently found a way to grow milk, butter, and cheese without involving those nasty bovines.

* For the record, Pasture-Raised™ is a trademarked phrase. According to the website, the tag requires a minimum number of days on pasture, and a significant portion of nutrition coming from “organically managed pasture and stored dried forages”. So that butter has been growing in the pasture for at least 120 days and has been fed corn and non-iodized salt supplements. Because there isn’t enough nutritive value in grass, and Heaven forbid we should mix any nasty chemicals into our, um, other chemicals.

This is useful information, folks! If Chobani and Organic Valley don’t need science, common sense, or grammar to work their wonders, can we extend the principle to other areas of the culinary industry?

Wonder of wonders, the FDA is already working along these lines. They recently issued a statement noting that because wood is porous, it can’t be cleaned. That being the case, cheese aged on wooden racks (as has been done for hundreds, if not thousands of years) is, by definition, unsafe.

This kind of logic could save us a lot of money. If we take it to the next level, we should ask if we even need the FDA and their partners in common sense, the USDA? Think about it: remember the government shutdown last October? You may recall that there was a salmonella outbreak while FDA and USDA employees were on furlough. But nobody died. Nobody even got sick. Why are we paying billions of dollars for these agencies for their questionable “science-based” food safety regulations?

Remember, folks, this is America, where you’re free to believe any damn thing you want. And apparently advertise it.