Sometimes I think I do little more in this space than bitch about something I read someplace else, but I yam what I yam, and having standards isn’t a bad thing. (Is it?)
So I’m reading around this morning and see a Kevin Leininger column on, of all things, raw milk. I worked with Kevin long enough, and know his hobbyhorses well enough, that as soon as I saw the subject, I had a pretty good idea what the story would be, and sure enough, I was right:
Got milk? Mark Grieshop and Troy Fisher do, and thanks to the growing interest in natural and organic foods their “raw milk” business is booming despite government regulations and warnings to the contrary.
Yep, it’s evil big guv’mint holding the little dairy farmer down, when all he wants to do is sell a product that can make you seriously ill. Can you believe it?
I’ve argued with raw-milk people in the past, and I’m willing to leave it at a draw: You can drink raw milk if you like, as long as you’re fully informed about the risks. The problem is, the people who sell it won’t do that, and too often they’re helped along by people who write stuff like this:
“I wouldn’t drink raw milk from an ordinary dairy farm, either,” said Grieshop, who stressed that Pasture’s Delights and other farms that produce raw milk for human consumption are careful to prevent harmful bacteria while preserving the bacteria, enzymes and nutrients that promote good health and can make the product safe even for some people with lactose intolerance.
I’ll take them at their word and assume they’ve vaccinated against brucellosis, but I’d demand a lot more reassurance that they “prevent harmful bacteria,” and as for making a product that contains lactose by its very definition “safe for some people with lactose intolerance,” all I can do is roll my eyes. Of course, Alan points out often that most food allergies are self-diagnosed, so I guess it’s possible.
So let’s move on, eh?
I bring all this up because I think we’re starting to care more about popularity and financial success than legitimate quality. All right, so that’s hardly news; that’s always been the case, as a general rule, for most of humanity’s reign. But now the smart people are doing it: People who should know better. I’m talking about you, dear reader: You, me, all of us.
You see this everywhere, from box office results to online pageviews to Nielsen ratings to freaking Twitter followers. More people watch the NFL on television than any sport so therefore IT IS THE BEST SPORT. You have fewer Twitter followers than the person you’re criticizing? YOU’RE A HATER. You don’t like that album that went platinum? YOU JUST JEALOUS. BuzzFeed has put a bunch of pictures of kittens together in a way that is easily passed around by idiots? THEY HAVE FIGURED OUT THE INTERNET THEY ARE SUCH BRILLIANT PACKAGERS OF CONTENT THE FUTURE OF MEDIA. We have become a culture that, because we can quantify things in a way we’ve never been able to before, are acting as if those numbers are all that matter.
I dunno, I liked it. I’ve mentioned before that when I first got here, I ran across the Mitch Albom radio show and was pleasantly surprised by it — his regular-guy persona played pretty well on the radio, and I know that might be more of a reflection of the toxic mire of his on-the-air colleagues, but whatever. Nowadays, though, he’s just like what the post describes: “The Newsroom” isn’t a bad show like the critics say, they’re just jealous of Jeff Daniels’ success. “The Bucket List” is a great movie because lots of people liked it. And so on.
Keep your standards. They matter.
Which brings us to the final bit of chat today, a really good Ta-Nehisi Coates piece. I don’t want to give it away, but I’ll say this: I was slow to warm to T-N C when I first started reading him, but once I did, I really did. Also, the ending is great.
So with that, I leave you to your weekend. This week felt long, but I got a lot accomplished. Hope you did too.