Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reality Smackdown (Or Leaping Before You Look)

The day after my excited post about hawking my cheese at the Schroon Lake Opening Weekend, the walls of reality came crashing down.

I discovered that I can’t sell my product to the public unless it comes from a licensed and inspected facility, i.e. a kitchen that passes NYS Dept. of Health and NYS Ag & Markets criteria. I’m sure NYS would be less than impressed with the officialness of my kitchen.

This is what happens when I let my enthusiasm race me down the road without taking the time to adjust my mirrors.

I suppose the fact that two folks who were kind enough to give me a gallon of raw milk to play with said, several times, "I can’t sell it to you, but I can give it to you," should have been a tip off. I was dipping my toes in NYS’s shark infested waters.

Yesterday I read up on the regulations and requirements online for a bit. When my head felt ready to explode, I reached out to Essex Co. Cornell Cooperative Extension for some information in laymans terms. When I asked if I was taking a chance of being arrested at Opening Weekend, I was jokingly told I was at risk of being put in handcuffs and chains and put in the stocks in town square. I told her I wouldn’t tell Larry about that, because he might actually volunteer for it.

In the end, a helpful representative from Adirondack Harvest confirmed what I was interpreting - I can make cheese for home use and personal consumption, but to sell anywhere, I need to be licensed. I’d have to have or use a commercial kitchen for my production. Ultimately, I withdrew my application for the weekend.

I do have options. I could produce it at someone’s licensed kitchen, but that somewhat defeats the purpose of my doing it at home, when I have time. I’m not really into having to go somewhere and losing more time from home. Depending on what type of cheese you’re making, this could involve a lot of back and forth. Quite frankly, I’m not really into that.

And that’s okay. My friends and family will continue to be the beneficiaries of my home kitchen-based experiments. We’ll keep cheese production as part of The 30 Acre Wood’s business plan, and make it an aspiration for down the road. Meanwhile, I’ll keep trying different types of cheese and perfect my craft, as it were. I’m keeping it fun, which is what it’s all about!

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