Bland, Corporate Wares

Often, the dominance of markets by bland and uninteresting mass-market products is blamed on capitalism.  This makes no sense to most business people, since if there really was a pent up demand for variety and smaller-batch products, someone would try to make money doing so.  One only has to look at the explosion of craft beers over the last 30 years to see this effect, and its one that is only being reinforced by modern technologies that allow lower costs for smaller batch production.

If one wants to put the blame anywhere, one might look at the government, where there is an interesting clash brewing on the Left between those who like local, small-batch products and the regulatory state the Left built.  For example, via Overlawyered

Homa Dashtaki [a producer of small-batch yogurt] was eager to demonstrate that her yogurt was safe and healthful, but complying with California regulations turned out to be not so easy. In fact, authorities told her that she would face possible prosecution unless she established a “Grade A dairy facility” employing processes more commonly found in factories. A highlight: she’d have to install a pasteurizer even though she made her yogurt from milk that was already pasteurized. What’s more, California law makes it illegal to pasteurize milk twice, so there went any hope of continuing her straightforward way of obtaining milk, namely bringing it home from a fancy grocery store.

Ms Dashtaki is pondering whether to move to another state, one whose rules allow for artisanal products. She would not be the first entrepreneur to flee the Golden State.

This is sort of like the old Mad magazine Spy v. Spy, but relabeled Left vs. Left.  Exactly the same dynamics are at work in organic farming as well as hand-crafted artisan toys (which are affected substantially by the recent toy regulations passed after the Chinese lead panic).


  1. marco73:

    The quantity of "White Mustache" yogurt (20 gallon batches) that the Dashtaki's were producing are absurdly small. This is hobby size, not manufacturer size.
    This is the industry protecting entrenched manufacturers, and has nothing to do with public safety.

    Should there be an artisan exception? Sure. Will there be one? A bureaucrat giving up power? The question answers itself.

  2. Another guy named Dan:

    It's the fundamental dichotomy that results from trying to place Rousseau's Nobel Savage under the authority of Lenin's Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

    To continue the mixed metaphor, the modern left wants to "Live like Indians in their valley", only with a full social safety net to ensure that they don't get cold or hungry in the wintertime. The tragedy of the left is that many do not see this as an unresolvable conflict.

  3. hanmeng:

    In a letter to the Economist magazine, Karen Ross, Secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture says,
    "We are committed to supporting innovation among the growing number of artisan food producers. But illegally produced foods, regardless of the craftsmanship they may embody, present a significant risk of food-borne illnesses, a risk that would be much greater without safeguards.

    Food producers and consumers alike rely on government to give the safety stamp of approval. The deaths of several dozen people in the Los Angeles area in 1985 because of unpasteurised milk used by a cheese manufacturer is a grim reminder why."

  4. d-day:

    I once looked into setting up a small side-business selling decorated sugar cookies, cupcakes and found a licensed commercial restaurant kitchen willing rent me the space while the restaurant was closed. With a food handlers license, I would have been good to go except . . . not legal to actually take the cakes out of the commercial kitchen without purchasing a separate vehicle or trailer that is not ever used for personal use. Yeah, not buying another car just so that I can sell a birthday cake here and there, and it's not like I can have people come picking up food solely between the hours of 8 and 9 on a Tuesday morning while the restaurant is closed.

    I understand that Arizona is actually better than most states on business regulations, shockingly enough. I live in Maricopa County though, so I'm not willing to sell even a crumb of illegal cookies because I don't want Sheriff Joe coming after me with the tank.

  5. DensityDuck:

    The issue isn't even that her process was hazardous; the issue was that her process didn't fit into the checklist that the regulator drone was trying to follow, so he just nixed the whole thing.

  6. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society:

    Speaking of Left Vs. Left, it's not just for breakfast any more:

    Environmental tax threatens green energy research in UK
    Carbon reduction commitment (CRC) scheme has 'perverse effect' of threatening zero-carbon energy research

    And, of course, the inevitable result of absurdly unrealistic demands:
    UK faces job losses as businesses threaten to flee abroad to escape green energy levies

    So we're finally getting to the point where the actual "True" name of the envirowhackos becomes clear:

  7. caseyboy:

    As the Federal government takes more and more control of things you won't have the option of moving to another state to avoid a stupid regulation. The stupid regulations will be everywhere. Where oh where will the last free market frontier be????

  8. Pete:

    You can't use the word organic anytime you want. It's been copyrighted. So just because your a farmer that never used a pesticide or fertilizer doesn't mean your food is organic. You need to register with some organization and proove you have met all of their requirements (expensive ones) so that you can advertise your food as what everybody already knows it is. I also hear these people are pretty aggressive with their enforcement. Of course this is not a problem for aliens legal or otherwise because they just won't use the English word.

  9. Allen:

    The craft brewing scene has been wonderful and sad at the same time. To me it's amazing how far it's come in a generation. Yesterday I was able to sample a few brews and bring home a growler from the Worth Brewing Company in Northwood, IA, a brewery more or less run with home brew equipment. I was able to stop at a nice liquor store and bring home some new brews.

    At the same time it's very frustrating. The Minnesota legislature recently passed a bill that many in the brewing community here are celebrating and considering a victory, the so-called Surly bill. What is this so-called victory? A brewery in Minnesota can now sell it's own beer at it's own facility.

    The details aren't clear but it appears to limited to 1 tap room. And it forbids the "big" brewers from doing the same. That's right, we still can't buy beer on Sundays. We can't buy beer after 8pm. The number of places we can buy beer is still severely limited ( not in convenience stores, not in grocery stores, you have to have a license to sell, et al. ). Anyone wanting to sell beer in the state has to go through one of a couple distributors to get their product into the few places that are allowed to sell it.

    To me, this isn't a victory so much as salt in the wound.