Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Food Culture

Funnel Cake at the Fair
Our annual treks home often unearth some new diet concerns in American culture- perhaps it is the fear mongering abundant in American media? Food topics of concern have run the gamut from carbohydrates generally to fat to cholesterol to wheat. No one is complaining about the wretched state of bread in America- surely you know of crunchy baguettes from France or perfect loaves of sandwich bread in Japan? It seems in America the focus is on the ingredients and not the product or the way in which we eat and live. I find this disheartening. Drive to to the gym, but don't walk or ride a bike daily. Fat substitutes, but no butter. Diet yogurt in twenty flavors, sure, but full fat yogurt is treated as if it has the plague. Sugar substitutes, but no honey, maple syrup, or fancy sugar crystals. No wheat, but how about a half pound of meat? Sigh. I think I found an American food culture I can respect- an active farmer's market with baked goods, honey, goat cheese, fruit, vegetables, beef, pork, organic coffee, and a lonesome banjo player; a local dairy with grass fed cows; and lots of local food products and restaurants including a brewery.

Pony Ride at the Fair
We left late for the Farmers Market after realizing there would be no house signing. We had to pull the Moose away from the soldier collection his grandfather had retrieved from the attic. Before Lego and Playmobil, there were still little boys who set up battlefields and elaborate sets- the Moose is apparently the third generation, maybe the forth, to do this. We took the Moose's Warrior book along in the car and managed to tempt him out of the car to chat with the beekeeper at the market. The Moose and the Mule identified the queen while observing the bee hive. We rustled up tomatillos from the Shade River Organic Farm and pork from the Pig Man for chille verde that my husband kindly cooked later for dinner. I will have to wait for next summer to make jam.

Children's Day (free admission) at the County Fair seemed to bring out a lot more children and a few hillbillies. The people watching was exceptional. We avoided the spin and puke rides. Instead the munsters opted for pony rides and the bungee cord trampoline. Lunch was from the Burrito Buggy and dessert was a funnel cake. We even had lemonade. It made for a satisfying fair experience, and it kept the Moose from pining for his toy soldiers.

Cows head in for milking time
We then set off to tour the Snowville Creamery. It was not a production day so we were able to tour the production line and see: how the milk is processed- a lot of pipes; the microbiological testing that is done; the cream separator; the packaging setup- only half gallons; and the analytical math skills required to match cows milked to percentage of butter fat to production needs amongst other things. We tasted samples of chocolate milk at the end of our tour and then watched the cows make their way into the milking barn, eighteen at a time. The cows have nearly an acre apiece to graze. The dairy sells milk as far away as Washington, DC. This dairy is the real deal- you know the picture of a farm used by industrial farms to represent their animals, the cartoon version of a cow or farm? Snowville uses pictures of the cows they milk on the land the cows eat- I now know the exact spot my favorite Snowville Dairy photo was taken. I thoroughly enjoyed it; the kiddos tolerated it though they were our excuse for going. We talked about the nutritional value of grass fed milk noting that chocolate milk is a better energy source than a power bar with more calcium, as well as why they sell cream in half gallon cartons (that's the only packaging machine they have), and a potential yogurt development (please, please). I asked a lot of questions, including the State of Ohio's milk regulations for cheese production (raw milk sales are not allowed to individuals).

The cows were certainly surprised to see us as they made their way to the barn- a few stopped and stared, stalling the line, only to be head butted by another cow, eventually. We even heard a moo or two. I enjoyed the cow's frank regard of us, their stare as if to absorb these alien invaders. There was one lone farmer in the rear insuring the herd made it's way together, but mostly the cows like and know their routine, and it is a quiet place, peaceful.

Snowville Creamery Tour 8/2011