Thursday, December 06, 2007

I think I'll sue

I hate how litigious our society is, how everything has to be controlled/regulated/labeled to the extreme to protect-- not the consumer, but the producer-- from potential misunderstandings, misuses, general stupidity. This is an old, stale joke, but take the nuts I bought yesterday. (Nuts being part of the let's-get-pregnant! diet that I've created for myself; it's a yummy diet but if it doesn't work, I may get fat from it.) A small bag of almonds to eat with lunch; the word ALMONDS emblazoned across the top of the bag in large, bold letters. And on the back, the usual warning: "may contain nuts." You think? Really? If someone didn't notice the ALMONDS on the front of the bag, why in the world would they see the warnings on the back? Also, the bag was clear cellophane. Clear. Even someone who couldn't read would notice that the bag was full of nuts. There is no common sense involved here, and no credit given to the consumer.

I read somewhere (can't remember where, now) that quite a few foreign visitors to the U.S. think that we must be a bit dim, because of all the labels telling us obvious things: caution, coffee will be hot; caution, moving sidewalk coming to an end; caution, may contain nuts. Basically, if we need to be told these things so often it doesn't speak well for our general intelligence and common sense. That we label everything towards the lowest common denominator isn't immediately clear if you're not already used to it.

On the other hand, labels can be very useful, especially if the alternative is to outlaw something completely. Take something like, say, pasteurization. The routine heating-up of stuff like milk, cider, and orange juice, to kill germs-- not bad in theory, right? Fine for most folks who don't want to think twice about their milk except to consider 2% versus 1%, regular versus organic. But there are plenty of people that would just as soon not have their milk scalded for a variety of reasons-- that want raw milk, yogurts and cheeses made from raw milk, or would like to buy unpasteurized apple cider with the enzymes and nutrients intact. It seems to me that those who want unpasteurized (whose ranks I may be joining) should be able to legally get it, somehow. Wouldn't a warning label be great for that? Caution: unpasteurized! That would be useful. I don't understand why I can buy cuts of grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken and eggs at the farmers market, but not fresh milk or goats' cheese. Why treat the entire population as though they're too dumb or uneducated to make those decisions for themselves?

The way around that law, incidentally, is to buy "cow share" from a dairy farmer, so that you're not buying raw(!) milk, you're paying a farmer to maintain your cow and periodically, you come pick up your milk. So much to-do, when legalizing the sale of unpasteurized milk would be so much more efficient.

1 comment:

ayla said...

Wow, I'm sorry you can't get raw milk where you are. I guess I'm spoiled, I live next to a dairy farm and I can get raw milk whenever I want. I walk up the hill, hand them money, they hand me milk, it's great. However, I actually prefer not to have raw milk, because I'm trying to cut the fat. We've been doing 2% in our house for a while, trying to work up to raw milk, but I can't go there. I think about it and my arteries slam shut. :shrug: