New York State's Department of Agriculture and Markets has begun enforcing a regulation that effectively prohibits cheese vendors at farmers' markets like New York City's popular Greenmarket from custom-slicing their products for customers, reports Manhattan news site DNAinfo.com.

Under rules now being enforced by the state's Department of Agriculture and Markets, farmers are no longer allowed to slice and wrap their cheese wheels at markets in New York unless they have a license to process food. They can only get that license if they have, for instance, a three-basin sink and hot water heater.

[...]

Cheese vendors say that the state will kill off their success at local greenmarkets by subjecting them to similar rules as delis or grocery stores — since it's impossible to get access to the same running water in their temporary stands as delis do at a store.

But even if market cheesemongers can't slice to order, at least customers there can still sample a cheese before they decide how much they want to buy. Oh, well, not really that either.

In addition, unlicensed cheesemongers are supposed to cut cheese samples with a disposable plastic knife, an impossibility with hard cheese, [cheesemonger Jody] Somers said.

"We have cheeses aged over a year," Somers said. "I have to use a double knife to cut them. How do I use a plastic knife?"

Whole stinky cheese tale here. And more here from Grub Street, which posts details under the wish-I-got-there-first headline New Regulations Mean Greenmarket Vendors Can No Longer Cut Their Cheese.

In case you're wondering, the mission of New York's Department of Agriculture and Markets (PDF)

is to foster a more competitive food and agriculture industry in New York State that benefits producers and consumers alike. It conducts programs for advertising, publicity and promotion to expand the demand for New York State food and agricultural products.

New York. Where fostering competition means stifling it, and expanding demand means ensuring suppliers cannot meet it.

Bonus: DNAinfo.com reports that pub crawls are also under attack in New York City.

Baylen Linnekin is a lawyer and the executive director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit that promotes culinary freedom, the idea that people should be free to make and consume whatever commestibles they prefer. For more information and to join or donate, go here now.