Interesting discussion…

…over food authenticity and the expectations that come with the “Amish” label.  Laura Vozzella of the Baltimore Sun wrote an article which appeared yesterday, on a new Amish market in Baltimore.

Laura interviewed me last week, and in the article I try to make the point that our perceptions of what Amish life entails can be mistaken–i.e., most Amish don’t churn their own butter, and most Amish dairies aren’t organic–and this can have implications for the products they provide in their businesses.

Laura also has a follow-up post on the market at her blog, where she examines how people’s expectations sometimes clash with reality.   Some interesting opinions in the comments section; I threw my follow-up two cents in over there.

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    1. As I read the article, I thought, “Oh, maybe I should move back to Maryland!’ (Lived in Annapolis for several years.) And then I read the comments on the blog at the Sun…no, I guess not. Holy cow, are people really that naive? And bigotted?

    2. Magadalena, I think it’s the anonymity of the net–and the shield of a computer screen. Most of the more unpleasant commenters of course do not offer their real names, and I’d bet dollars to donuts they wouldn’t have the nerve to say half the things they do if they were in a face to face situation. That said, I think there were some good points made over an interesting issue.

    3. Good point Monica–I left a comment trying to emphasize the same. I know what you mean about comments sections! Seems to bring out the worst people, and/or the worst in people. But not this one of course! 😉

    4. Monica

      Read that article yesterday and thought it was very well balanced. Most consumers don’t think to ask where their food comes from (I’m guilty too) but many buy from the Amish under an *assumption*. I haven’t seen the comments though- and now I’m too scared to go back and look.

    5. David

      Hi Erik,
      Love your website and check it regularly for updates. I’ve been around the Amish here ( Marion, Ky.) since 1977 and the one thing I’ve learned is they are just like us more or less. They have the same worries and concerns that the “English” do. They just deal with it in a different way. Have you seen this article, ? I was wondering if you had talked to any of the farmers and been told what they really think of this latest intrusion by the government.

    6. Dana

      Don’t you think David that pork agri business of NC and Virginia does ecological damage much much more than Amish?
      To me NYT did introduce just one side of the story, making only Amish “the bad guys”.

    7. Matt from CT

      >Don’t you think David that pork agri business of NC and
      >Virginia does ecological damage much much more than Amish?

      Even among “conventional” dairy farms in my area there is a wide spread in the concern for the land, animals, and environment shown.

      If you confine your question solely to individual facilities, I have no doubt if one went looking they could find an Amish farm that causes more water pollution then a well run pork factory. Likely you could even keep a fairly even count going even measured by total pollution.

      If you look at the total system the answer becomes less clear, because then you also start looking at midwestern corn farms and how that corn is transported to feed pigs in North Carolina.

      You can manage wastes effectively on small, mixed system farms. However some of the changes do impact both economic and aesthetic concerns — by fencing off streams and ponds and letting them grow into brushy / tree lined areas you increase the work for the farmer (who now needs to water pastured cattle, a significant proposition if you don’t have electric powered wells), you reduce his available acreage for forage (in a place like Lancaster County where space is at a premium already, a big issue), and you also impact the what most Americans view as bucolic scenery (don’t forget Lancaster County is built as much on tourism as anything else).

    8. Pingback: Controversies over Amish manure and aching backs | Amish America