Food Freedom

Pickle Bill Gets Wyoming Home Canners Out of One

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DANGER!

"If someone says they shouldn't have to follow regulations because they're making food in their home, I'd say, 'Why is your home so safe that it doesn't need that level of oversight and control?"?

That's Robert Harrington, head health honcho in Casper, Wyoming, on the state's decision to relax laws relating to the sale of "non-hazardous foods" like jam and homemade brownies last February with a "Pickle Bill." The bill exempts people who earn less than $5,000 a year from requirements for the use of commercial kitchens and other expensive rules.

In every state, people are free to feed others in their filthy, unregulated homes, it's only when money changes hands that home cooks transform into a public health hazard.

More on farm-to-table laws from self-proclaimed "Christian-conservative-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic" farmer Joel Salatin here.

Via Jacob Grier.

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  1. it’s only when money changes hands that home cooks transform into a public health hazard.

    I wonder if the proliferation of the nanny state will bring on a widespread version of Bartertown.

    BTW, I make some pretty killer hot wing sauce that I’d be willing to trade for a little homebrew.

    1. I’m constantly making pastrami, bacon, pulled pork, etc. for folks, and I’m very careful to keep my head down for just this reason.

      1. There was a gentleman at my previous employer that would smoke about 100 racks of ribs once a month or so and then sell them to co-workers. I kept waiting for someone to call him on it.

        After all this is the same workplace where someone complained to HHS about the bake sale events we used to hold to raise money for employees in need and shut them down.

        1. Well, we’re talkin bout ribs, baby. No one wants to fuck with their crack rib realer.

    2. Let me know if you’re ever in Chicago. Homebrew and hot wings is always a winning combination.

      1. Homebrew and Hot Wings

        Great band name. Would also be a great restaurant name….except then it wouldn’t really be “homebrew” at that point.

        1. Too late. There’s a really, really lame Morning Ride DJ combination in the Albany area that calls themselves Free Beer and Hot Wings.

          One guy is Free Beer. The other one is Hot Wings.

          Their horrific dorkness has forever stained the name and all related names. I didn’t think it could be possible for someone to be so lame that they could ruin the name “Free Beer”, but if I see that sign on a building I have to keep walking.

          1. *insert the family guy clip of the radio show guys*

          2. They really need to suffer the same fate as KBBL’s Bill and Marty and be replaced by the DJ 3000.

          3. I did flip off Albany as I drove home last week. It really takes a long time to get past it on 787. I think some people thought I was flipping them off. Oh well.

            It’s true, all our radio stations suck.

  2. I get confused between Wyoming and Wisconsin. Which one has the mountains and cowboys, and which one has the cheese & brats?

    1. Way off. You’re thinking of Montana and Minnesota, respectively.

      *barely contained laughter*

  3. In every state, people are free to feed others in their filthy, unregulated homes, it’s only when money changes hands that home cooks transform into a public health hazard.

    “Now, children, how do you spell ‘Public Policy’?
    “It is spelled P-R-O-T-E-C-T-I-O-N-I-S-M, miss!”
    “Very good, children! All public policy in the US is geared towards protecting cronies. Very good!”

    1. Thanks OM, this thread was fun before i got to your truth nugget.

  4. relax laws relating to the sale of “non-hazardous foods” like jam and homemade brownies

    Non-hazardous foods?!

    What a concept!

    1. Calm down, Nanny. We’ve got the killer brownies under control.

  5. “In every state, people are free to feed others in their filthy, unregulated homes, it’s only when money changes hands that home cooks transform into a public health hazard.”

    Don’t give them any ideas…

  6. meh. Home kitchens aren’t a problem because they don’t feed many people. Let a little ecoli run rampant in one and you’re talking a few lost man hours. Let it run loose in a Mcey D’s and you’re talking about an epidemic. Plus the more food you push through the harder it is to keep clean. Perhaps public health regulations should optimally kick in based on number of customers, or gross tonnage. But I’m OK with using Dollar threshold trigger as a stand in.

    In libertopia, kitchens would be certified by private agencies (ala Underwriters Labs) and sellers would be free to get certified or not and buyers could buy from whomever they wanted. But I think I’d probably privatize the roads before I got around to eliminating all public health regulations.

    1. How about something like bacteria ppm? I wonder why that’s a nonstarter for the big fellas.

    2. But I’m OK with using Dollar threshold trigger as a stand in.

      I’d rather go by weight or volume. Going by $s penalizes anything that requires more time or effort.

    3. Perhaps public health regulations should optimally kick in based on number of customers, or gross tonnage.

      Dude, leave the obesity of the customers out of this for the love of God.

      1. *applause*

    4. From the June 2009 Grand Isle (LA) Island Beacon. They don’t have a website, I get it via USPS.

      Elmer’s Island
      800 visitors traveled to Elmer’s Island over the Fourth of July weekend as the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries opened access there for the first time in nearly a decaded.The island had been a commercial campground and fishing area for 30 years. But public access via a marshland road was denied after th death of the road’s owner. the opening of the road followed a title search that the state says determined the area is Louisiana property.

      1. Tell the people of Minnesota how those PUBLIC bridges are working for them. Well, tell the living Minnesotans.

    5. In my libertopia, there would be no licensing or inspection of food preparation establishments, but if anyone got sick eating your food and it was demonstrated that the preparation conditions were unsanitary or you had been negligent, you’d face criminal charges for assault [and on up to manslaughter, if anyone died].

      1. Wouldn’t loss of business, bankruptcy, and a fouled reputation be punishment enough?

        1. Fluffy, allowing for criminal charges is just too big an opening for the totalitarians in our midst. And it would not be justice for a free people.

          Instead, if one gets sick as a direct and proximate result of the other’s negligent food handling, one should be entitled to receive from the other his actual damages, nothing more, nothing less.

  7. The bill exempts people who earn less than $5,000 a year from requirements for the use of commercial kitchens and other expensive rules.

    But poor people are dirtier than rich people! Everyone knows that.

  8. Ugh, I have a headache after reading this.

    I’d eat some toast with my mother-in-law’s EPIC homemade strawberry jam in protest…but I’m not at home ๐Ÿ™

    And thank goodness she doesn’t charge us for it…I’d go broke. SO good.

    1. And thank goodness she doesn’t charge us for it…I’d go broke. SO good.

      She’s just waiting till you’re good and hooked. The 1st (bunch of) taste(s) is(/are) always free.

  9. “If someone says they shouldn’t have to follow regulations because they’re making food in their home, I’d say, ‘Why is your home so safe that it doesn’t need that level of oversight and control?”?

    what a sick fuck.

    1. This quote confuses me. It seems to contradict the rest of the post and the bill in question. What am I missing?

      1. OK, so i should go re-read before posting about how lacking I am in reading comprehension…i thought the guy they quoted was the bill’s sponsor for some reason.

        So, the guy in charge of the regulations isn’t cool with the new regulations he has to enforce?

        FUCK HIM. With some of those shitty nonrefrigerated pickles.

    2. OK, dude, let’s start with your house. With a fine tooth fucking comb, biotch.

  10. As a boy, I often daydreamed of accompanying Herbert Hoover on his historic visit to the Snake River Ranch. I imagined I would help the Secret Service protect him from the Native Americans! Ah, youth. We called them Indians then. In my cowboy reveries, I always wore the same outfit Tom Mix wore in that great old “talkie” Flaming Guns. Are the Tom Mix movies out on videotape? Kids these days don’t seem interested in Westerns. And the pickles at the Carnegie Deli aren’t from Wyoming, I can tell you that!

    1. Please don’t spoof Larry King on this thread, thanks.

      1. Nice smackdown, sage.

      2. Who died and made your sorry ass Censor?

        1. Apparently my comment is a bit esoteric. Sorry.

          1. I got it and found it pretty hilarious.

            1. Thank you, though I must say the King spoofer is cranking out some gold.

              1. Agreed.

                1. https://reason.com/blog/2010/06…..tcontainer

                  Matt Welch remarks

    2. Are you getting these quotes from somewhere or just making them up. If the latter, then well done. I’m laughing my ass off.

  11. So when I make steak tartare (or salmon tartare, or tuna tartare), am I endangering my dinner guests, Mr. Harrington, you control freak shitheel?

    1. Yes, you are, in theory. But in practice, it should be yours and your guests choice of whether to take that risk.

      Oh, sry, preaching to the choir again.

      1. (no need to point out how this idea easily transfers to any business selling food. I know.)

      2. Whenever I serve my guests soylent green, it always fresh and handled properly.

    2. Episiarch is history’s greatest monster.

      1. RIGHT?! “Tuna Tartare”?! What a waste of sushi-grade tuna!

        1. ๐Ÿ™‚

        2. I won’t use sushi-grade when you come over for dinner, just like I don’t when NutraSweet does.

          1. It’s cool, I’m not there for the dinner anyway. I’m there for the booty.

            1. Thanks for the visual.

              1. Unless you were seeing the latest episode of The Boondocks, then I failed.

    3. Glad you brought up tuna…

      I owe you an apology. I once gave you crap about tuna and it being low grade cat food. A few months back, I tried some seared Ahi that was still very rare and coated with black sesame seeds, salt, and pepper.

      It was one of the finest meals in my life. I’ve been damn near driving myself in to the poor house buying and eating tuna since then.

      So, I’m sorry. And you were so incredibly correct.

      1. “Blin-ded by the li-ight, revved up like a deuce….”

      2. I also hated tuna until I had it raw. I’m still not a huge fan of cooked fish.

        1. I’m just happy I finally found something that’s actually healthy and good for me that I enjoy. (Or course, overeating said item still is a negative.)

          In the realm of fish, my only likes were shrimp, Van de Kamp/Gorton’s, and Long John Silvers. At least now I’m down with Halibut and Tuna. I still hate cooked salmon but I’m hoping to try some sushi using it soon.

          1. Salmon on the grill with a stick of butter melted on it, covered in All Spice, served with potatoes simmered in butter with chopped bacon, with a side of asparagus is awesome.

            1. My tongue just had an orgasm.

          2. Smoked/Dried is the only way I really like Salmon. Not like bagels & lox, more like jerky.

          3. Whole cleaned trout, wrapped in foil with some olive oil and lavender (or whatever other herb is handy), grilled outside.

        2. I generally refuse to eat cooked salmon, because it pales compared to the raw. Lightly seared tuna and other steaks (marlin, swordfish, shark) can be very good. But raw is still the best.

      3. Salmon is still low grade cat food, isn’t it?

  12. Ken Ruegsegger… already invested in a commercial kitchen that meets licensing requirements and is charging $4 to $7 for his products to try to make back the money. Unlicensed competitors can now make the same product in uninspected kitchens and sell it for half the price, he said. “That could cost me thousands of dollars per year,” he said. “And I’m inspected four times a year. These people could be making it in their kitchens with cats walking around. It’s not fair.”

    If this guy is afraid of producers with cats walking around getting stuff in their jam, then he must have terrible product.

    And he should’ve fought the regulations when they came out instead of worshipping at the alter of crony capitalism/market barriers.

    How bout an article on the NAIS being replaced by the Animal Disease Traceability frameworkbullshit?

    1. I was driving through north Florida last week and was appalled at all the people selling fruit and nuts on the side of the road. Not a hair net, plastic glove, or government employee to hold my hand anywhere on 301. I could have died!

      1. If they take our peaches, I’m killing you first; them second.

        1. You’re doing it wrong.

          You team up with Nick to kill the peach-banner-nanas, THEN you kill Nick, to take his share of the peaches.

          It’s not rocket surgery.

          1. Yeah! Wait, what?

      2. You were fortunate! There have been literally tens of people who’ve fallen ill after eating raw unpasteurized almonds from small roadside growers the world’s largest producer of almonds.

    2. “And I’m inspected four times a year. These people could be making it in their kitchens with cats walking around. It’s not fair.”

      I see you’ve been to my mother in laws house. But damn she makes some good pies

  13. Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, wants to eliminate all restrictions when cooks sell products directly to informed consumers. “How (opponents) can possibly claim what I decide what I put in my mouth is something the government should be regulating is ridiculous,” she said. “Then you’re imposing on my rights as a consumer to eat the food I choose.”

    How refreshing.

    1. Is she single? ‘Cause I’m in love.

      1. I wonder what her position on drugs and oral sex are. After all, if it goes in her mouth…

        1. Valid questions. Thanks for ruining my crush Nick. ๐Ÿ™

          1. If she answers correctly, have the ring ready.

      2. Have at her:

        http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_QnN8…..wallis.jpg

        1. Shallow much?

          1. As often as possible. Thanks for asking.

            1. Fair enough. As an unrepentant asshole, I stand by your right to be unrepentantly shallow.

              1. I worship at your alter of tolerence.

                1. Sorry, i can’t tolerate that.

  14. So let me begin by stating that I have a conflict of interest – I have a licensed catering kitchen that cost a freaking fortune, which I use for catered events as well as small scale production of frozen pasta and wood fired pizza. However, I don’t particularly fear competition from home kitchens as such.

    Entering the professional food production business has been a real eye opener, and as a result of what I have learned, I would be VERY reluctant to eat anything from a non-inspected kitchen. Residential kitchens are profoundly unsuitable for large scale food production, and when you are talking about hundreds of servings rather than a handful, the opportunities for contamination multiply enormously. Even in a kitchen that is designed from scratch for safety, I live in terror of producing contaminated products, and I wouldn’t even consider doing this work in a kitchen that is not designed for the task. The number of things that can go wrong is way larger than you might appreciate.

    It’s very hard to get people to respect food safety issues in the first place – I’ve worked in kitchens where seemingly sensible people do things like prepare lettuce on tables covered with raw chicken juice. Just because a food is not potentially hazardous doesn’t mean it isn’t getting contaminated with things that are. The low profit margins and extreme labor of food production, even at “small” scales, produces incredible pressure to cut corners and ignore mistakes. It is NOTHING like home food preparation and should not be mixed up with it, ever.

    I’ll stick with the intrusive regulations and inspections, thank you very much. The free market is great at lots of things, but food safety is not one of them.

    1. Re: Tony,

      I’ll stick with the intrusive regulations and inspections, thank you very much. The free market is great at lots of things, but food safety is not one of them.

      Translation from Tony-ese: People are too stupid, regulators know better [possibly because regulators are not people, or something . . .]

      1. In fact I do think that the general public is not sufficiently well informed to make good decisions on food safety, and yes, this is one of a relatively SMALL number of cases where I genuinely believe that government does a better job than private parties would arrange on their own.

        BTW, for the purposes of this thread I am now “Tony B” since there seems to be another Tony that posts here.

        1. Boy, is there ever. Welcome to the fire.

          Do you think the average consumer is less informed due to a false sense of security perpetrated by government? Everyone knows some of our tax dollars provide for the FDA and all kinds of inspection agencies, so everyone expects that every restaurant and food packager is clean and safe. Then Peter Pan Peanut Butter has a salmonella outbreak and everyone wonders how that could happen. We learn there aren’t nearly enough inspectors to take care of us. They inspect a tiny fraction of the food produced in this country and that which is imported. There simply will never be enough inspectors.

          That said, we know there are enough neighbors who love to get their nose in everyone’s business. I say we save every penny we pay for our government saviors and get free nitpicking from the busy bodies that live in every town! They can report their findings to the local stations and papers or post on their blogs, etc.

      2. In fact I do think that the general public is not sufficiently well informed to make good decisions on food safety, and yes, this is one of a relatively SMALL number of cases where I genuinely believe that government does a better job than private parties would arrange on their own.

        BTW, for the purposes of this thread I am now “Tony B” since there seems to be another Tony that posts here.

        1. So are you the gay Tony? Or a new one?

          1. Must be a new one. This one owns a business and is productive.

        2. Tony B, there is indeed another “Tony” here and he’s roundly despised as a liberal troll. Suggest you keep with the “Tony B” handle so you won’t get fragged.

    2. Do you have reason to doubt that a private inspection industry would not rise from the ashes of a dismantled public health inspector bureaucracy? From a strictly utilitarian perspective, it’s at least possible (if not overwhelmingly likely) that a private set of health inspectors would end up with the same net health improvement as the existing public set. Assuming an equality of outcomes, why trade freedom for bureaucracy?

      And if you don’t assume an equality of outcomes, what’s the basis for the pessimism?

      Remember that no system, public or private, will eliminate mistakes or cut corners. Ever. So systems need to be evaluated not based on their ability to eliminate every instance of food safety failure (which is impossible), but on how frequent failures occur.

      1. Creekstone’s trying it despite the USDA’s best efforts.

        Reason covered Creekstone Farms vs USDA (large meatpackers) back in ’06, again in ’08. The USDA tried to halt Creekstone from privately testing 100% of their beef for BSE that were bound for Japan (a Japanese-mandated condition for import). The USDA has since lost and appealed the decision.

        This is the reality of a “testing” policy as implemented by bureaucrats within a crony system.

        1. I really get pissed off when the government, any level or bureaucracy, loses a case and appeals. The default should be for the government to get out of people’s lives and businesses, not ramp up their involvement at our own damn expense.

      2. A good question. The reason I favor government in THIS case (and not in general) is mostly because of information overload; a consumer should not be burdened with looking for private accreditation marks all the time, and sort out the legitimate from the dubious, when it comes to matters of basic safety on necessary products. There is probably some possible Libertopia where informed consumers achieve an optimal level of safety at minimal cost under such a system, but I don’t think the US is ever going to be like that.

        Second, in THIS case, I consider the cost and results of government regulation to be money well spent; I balked at the requirements for the construction of my kitchen and complained at length at first, but in retrospect these regulations were well thought out and worth following. They are also not things I would have thought up myself. I don’t see the practical results of government intervention as being wasteful in this case. If there were a real life example of private accreditation providing similar benefits, I could be persuaded, but I am not sure if such a system actually exists.

        1. I bet your insurance company has thought of it, as would the private inspectors your insurance carrier would require you to get certification from before opening your doors for business. It’s called loss control and the people who pay claims to cover your losses are well aware of what food prep means for your risk assessment. This diligence is reduced to the consumer’s detriment by the government being inspector and granting you license.

          People assume govt inspectors are impartial and have the public’s interests at heart. The reality is, they have their own weekend plans on their minds because they will get paid no matter what forever and ever amen. They have no incentive to be any good at their jobs. I’ve known many government employees and only one of them I would consider someone who gives a crap…about his own store his wife operates while he’s at work in his marble tower in Albany.

          1. That is a plausible scenario. However, I have been surprised at how un-interested my insurer is in my activities.

            I agree that the inspectors around here are kind of lax. There are areas where they are much, much stricter.

            I’m not at all convinced that private inspectors would be better, though. Are there any examples of where private, voluntary inspection of something has been effective?

            1. YEAH GAIZ, where has the free market ever (had a chance to) work(ed)?! HUH?!?!?!?

        2. I call B.S. on this being a different Tony. Tony B –> Tony C –> Tony D

    3. I live in terror of producing contaminated products,

      Too bad your parents weren’t thinking the same thing before producing you.

    4. How does tony find time to make pasta and pizza between all the art gallery galas he attends to bolster his impressive collection?

      1. I wouldn’t buy food from someone who relies on inspectors who visit every few months rather than hammering it into his employees every day that they need to follow proper cleanliness protocols or someone will get sick. Or someone who spends too much time posting here rather than monitoring those employees to make sure they don’t fuck up and cost him a fortune in liabilities.

        1. This, and This, and This too!

          1. Here’s the footnote:

            “I’ve worked in kitchens where seemingly sensible people do things like prepare lettuce on tables covered with raw chicken juice.”

            1. God forbid he speak up to the manager in that kitchen.

              “Hey, are we TRYING to make people sick?”

              1. I can assure you the problem was corrected. It was a nonprofit event but the guy running the kitchen was a professional (sigh…)

                1. but the guy running the kitchen was a “professional”

                  or

                  but the guy running the kitchen was a professional dickwad

                  Either way, FTFY.

        2. It seems you are confusing me with some other Tony. I have only posted in the comments here maybe twice before.

          1. You’ll have to excuse us, your slavish deferral to Gov’t Authority makes you pretty indistinguishable from the usual “Tony”.

            1. Please accept my apologies Tony B, for the reasons pointed out by the less-rude commenters.

          2. Sorry for the confusion. You may wish to select another handle; the name “Tony” = “Cockweasel Troll” in these parts.

    5. I would not touch a thing you prepared, Tony. Just the thought of it makes me vomit.

    6. You don’t need government, Tony. Those issues can be handled peacefully.

    7. Totally serious question, Tony… If a friend invited you over to dinner would you accept their invitation?

      And also, as noted above, while I think most commenters will stand by their critical remarks, you’ll have to excuse the overly-rude tone which is the result of mistaken identity. But I suppose it could have been worse (like if your parents named you MNG for some bizarre reason).

      1. Let’s just say I accept risks in the name of friendship that I would not accept in commerce. ๐Ÿ˜‰ So yeah, some of my friends kitchens scare the pants off of me, and remind me that food safety does not come naturally!

        It’s also much safer to prepare 10 servings of food than it is to prepare 200. Risks like insufficiently fast chilling, length of exposure to the environment, etc. are magnified by the sheer quantity involved. Not understanding how procedures must change with scale is the basis of many food poisoning incidents.

  15. Anyway, this is especially poignant for me, since I’ve lately been considering starting a pickle business. Gherkins, Chilis, Beets, Radishes….prolly some other veggies.

    Going to play with some recipes with my harvest this summer to figure out what to sell.

    1. Pickle bologna while your at it. The stuff is fantastic.

      1. No way, that exists?! If i can have pickled meat with my pickled veggies, i might just die of happiness.

        1. I’ve had it too. It’s fan-fucking-tastic.

          http://www.koegelpickledbologna.com/

    2. Two recommendations for you: picked Brussels sprouts and pickled garlic. Especially the pickled garlic. Even as a garlic lover I thought those would be over-the-top but the pickling process cuts the heat much in the same way that roasting does. The end result is AWESOME.

      1. Make that PICKLED Brussels sprouts (though I suppose they will have to be picked beforehand).

        1. oh, and “tee hee hee”

      2. FUCKIN A, Thanks CMed! Great ideas.

        Apparently brussel sprouts are ACTUALLY edible if they aren’t boiled to shit…which is the only way Americans know how to prepare them, unfortunately.

        1. Seriously, I hated Brussels sprouts for about 26 of my 31 years on this planet. Anyway, I found both the pickled Brussels sprouts and garlic in central Wisconsin, but have never seen them anywhere else. Hopefully that means there’s a market for them in your neck of the woods (and I’ll assume you’re not already in central Wisconsin or you would have already tried them).

          1. Bmore, baby.

          2. Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

            Also:

            “You are clever and witty, but your comments and most likely your mind is superficial and irrelevant.”

        2. Roasted brussel sprouts are delicious.

          1. Roasted broccoli, with a sprinkle of grated parm. It’s beyond delicious, its a fucking revelation.

  16. Well, you’re allowed to have sex in your home too. But if money changes hands …

    1. WOW, comparing the topic at hand to another consensual activity between consenting adults.

      I’m convinced.

    2. Good point! That should be legal too!

  17. Tony B – I suspect that absent a government inspection regime that only a few players would want to get into the food safety inspection business. NSF, Inc, comes to mind as they already certify products. Thus, the consumer’s decision-tree would probably be: If certified by NSF, assume safe. Otherwise, avoid.

    Sure if NSF became corrupt or inefficient then they’d be ripe for competition.

    1. Depends on the cost of certification. ISO 9001 comes to mind. A lot of small shops I deal with won’t get certified because the cost of doing so is too high. They still do good work, so we keep using them unless our contracts require ISO certs throughout. When that happens, we go to larger places and usually end up paying more.

  18. This is awesome. I make homemade pickles, which everyone loves. I’d love to be able to sell them.

    1. Your pickleletter, pls. (Newsletter for pickle makers.)

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